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LI BRARY O F N E W T E S T A ME N T S T U D I E S

355
formerl y the Journal for t he Study of the Ne w Testament Suppl ement series
Editor
Mark Goodacre
Editorial Board
John M. G. Barclay, Craig Blomberg, Kathleen E. Corley,
R. Alan Culpepper, James D. G. Dunn, Craig A. Evans, Stephen Fowl,
Robert Fowler, Simon J. Gathercole, John S. Kloppenborg, Michael Labahn,
Robert Wall, Steve Walton, Robert L. Webb, Catrin H. Williams
COSMOLOGY AND NEW
TESTAMENT THEOLOGY
EDITED BY
JONATHAN T. PENNINGTON
AND SEAN M. MCDONOUGH
t&t dark
Copyright Jonathan T. Pennington, Sean M. McDonough and contributors, 2008
Published by T&T Clark International
A Continuum imprint
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All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by
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British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
ISBN-10: 0-567-03143-8 (hardback)
ISBN-13: 978-0-567-03143-3 (hardback)
Typeset by CA Typesetting Ltd, www.sheffieldtypesetting.com
Printed on acid-free paper in Great Britain by Biddies Ltd, King's Lynn, Norfolk
The edi t or s woul d l i ke t o dedi cat e t hi s vol ume t o t hei r wi ves
wi t h affect i onat e grat i t ude for t hei r l ove, support , and encour agement .
Sine qua non.
Tr acy Di ane Penni ngt on
Ar i ana M. H. Mc Donough
C O N T E N T S
Li st of Cont r i but or s ix
I NTRODUCTI ON 1
Sean M. Mc Donough and Jonat han T. Penni ngt on
1. GRAE CO- ROMAN AN D ANCI ENT JEWISH COSMOLOGY 5
Edwar d Ada ms
2 . HEAVEN, EARTH, AN D A N E W GENESI S: THEOLOGI CAL
COSMOLOGY IN MATTHEW 2 8
Jonat han T. Penni ngt on
3 . TEARI NG THE HEAVENS AN D SHAKI NG THE HEAVENLI ES:
MARK' S COSMOLOGY IN ITS APOCALYPTI C CONTEXT 4 5
Mi chael F. Bi r d
4 . ' THE HEAVENS OPENED' : COSMOLOGI CAL AND THEOLOGI CAL
TRANSFORMATI ON IN LUKE AN D AC T S 6 0
St eve Wal t on
5 . LI GHT OF THE WORLD: COSMOLOGY AN D THE J OHANNI NE
LITERATURE 7 4
Edwar d W. Kl i n k III
6. P AUL' S COSMOLOGY: THE WI TNES S OF ROMANS , 1 AN D 2
CORI NTHI ANS, AN D GALATI ANS 9 0
Joel Whi t e
7 . REORI ENTED TO THE COSMOS: COSMOLOGY & THEOLOGY
IN EPHESI ANS THROUGH PHI LEMON 1 0 7
Rober t L. Fost er
8. THE COSMOLOGY OF HEBREWS 1 2 5
Jon Laans ma
9 . G O D AN D ' THE WORLD' : COSMOLOGY AN D THEOLOGY IN THE
LETTER OF J AMES 1 4 4
Dar i an Locket t
vi i i Cosmology and New Testament Theology
1 0 . COSMOLOGY IN THE PETRI NE LITERATURE AN D J UDE 1 5 7
J ohn Denni s
1 1 . REVELATI ON: THE CLI MAX OF COSMOLOGY 1 7 8
Sean M. Mc Donough
1 2 . CONCLUSI ON 1 8 9
Sean M. Mc Donough and Jonat han T. Penni ngt on
I ndex of Anci ent Sour ces 1 9 3
I ndex of Na me s 2 1 0
L I S T O F C O N T RI B U T O RS
Jonat han T. Pe nni ngt on ( PhD, Uni ver si t y of St Andr ews ) is Assi st ant Pr o-
fessor of Ne w Test ament I nt erpret at i on at Sout her n Semi nar y i n Loui svi l l e,
Kent ucky.
Se an M. Mc Do n o u g h ( PhD, Uni ver si t y of St Andr ews ) is Associ at e Prof essor
of Ne w Test ament at Gor don- Conwel l Theol ogi cal Semi nar y, Sout h Hami l t on,
Mas s achus et t s .
Edwa r d Ad a ms ( PhD, Uni ver si t y of Gl as gow) i s Lect ur er i n Ne w Test ament
St udi es at Ki ng' s Col l ege London, London, Engl and.
Mi c hae l Bi r d ( PhD, Uni ver si t y of Queens l and) is Tut or i n Ne w Test ament at
Hi ghl and Theol ogi cal Col l ege, Di ngwal l , Scot l and.
J o hn De nni s ( PhD, Uni ver s i t y of Leuven) is Lect ur er i n Ne w Tes t ament at
I nt er nat i onal Chr i s t i an Col l ege, Gl as gow, Scot l and.
Robe r t Fos t er ( PhD, Sout her n Met hodi st Uni versi t y, Dal l as, Texas) is Adj unct
Associ at e Pr of essor of Ol d Test ament ( Per ki ns School of Theol ogy) and Rel i -
gi on at Sout her n Met hodi s t Uni versi t y.
Edwa r d W. Kl i nk III ( PhD, Uni ver si t y of St Andr ews ) is Assi st ant Pr of essor
of Ne w Test ament at Tal bot School of Theol ogy, Bi ol a Uni versi t y, La Mi r ada,
Cal i forni a.
J o n La a ns ma ( PhD, Uni ver si t y of Aber deen) is Associ at e Pr of essor of Anci ent
Languages and Ne w Test ament at Wheat on Col l ege, Wheat on, Il l i noi s.
Dar i an R. Loc ke t t ( PhD, Uni ver si t y of St Andr ews ) is Assi st ant Pr of essor of
Ne w Test ament at Tal bot School of Theol ogy, Bi ol a Uni versi t y, La Mi r ada,
Cal i forni a.
St eve Wal t on ( PhD, Sheffield Uni ver si t y) is Seni or Lect ur er i n Gr eek and Ne w
Test ament St udi es at London School of Theol ogy, Nor t hwood, Engl and.
X Cosmology and New Testament Theology
Joel Whi t e ( PhD, Dor t mund Uni ver si t y) i s Lect ur er i n Ne w Test ament , Fr ei e
Theol ogi sche Akademi e, Gi essen, Ger many.
I N TROD U C TI ON
S e a n M. Mc D o n o u g h a n d J o n a t h a n T. P e n n i n g t o n
Cos mol ogy i s easi l y di sr egar ded i n t he moder n wor l d. Pi ct ures of t he moons
of Sat ur n are qui ckl y t ossed asi de t o ma ke r oom for pi ct ures of t he st ars of
Hol l ywood; t he l i ght s of t he s hoppi ng mal l bl ot out t he ni ght sky for a good
port i on of t he popul at i on i n t he West . Not so for t he anci ent s. Whet her it wa s
t he phi l osopher cont empl at i ng t he perf ect i on of t he heavenl y orbi t s, t he f armer
searchi ng t he sky for si gns of whe n t o pl ant hi s cr ops, or t he deser t - dwel l i ng
sect ari an l ooki ng for t he end of t he wor l d, t he cos mos hel d an endl ess fasci na-
tion. It is i roni c t hat whi l e scientific knowl edge about t he uni ver se has exponen-
tially wa xe d over t he last t wo mi l l enni a, popul ar i nt erest has waned.
I n l i ght of t hi s, it i s har dl y sur pr i si ng t hat t he s t udy of cos mol ogy has
been r el at i vel y under - s er ved i n Ne w Tes t ament st udi es. Whi l e t her e ar e ma n y
val uabl e speci al t y st udi es on bi t s and pi eces of NT cos mol ogy avai l abl e, and
r ecent year s have s een s ome i mpor t ant publ i cat i ons , t her e i s still a need for
an over ar chi ng per s pect i ve on t hi s cr uci al backdr op t o t he wor l d of t he ear l y
Chr i st i ans. The pr es ent st udy i s an at t empt t o begi n t o addr es s t hi s l acuna i n
t he field. I n it, we wi l l at t empt t o pr ovi de t he neces s ar y or i ent at i on t o anci ent
cos mol ogy i n gener al , and t hen addr es s speci fi c ques t i ons concer ni ng t he
pr es ence and f unct i on of cos mol ogy i n t he maj or ar eas of t he NT canon. It
is hoped t hat t hi s wi l l open u p an ongoi ng conver s at i on on t hi s aspect of NT
t heol ogy.
Ancient Roots
A fasci nat i on wi t h ( and fear of) t he heavens goes deep i nt o huma n hi st ory. I n
t he Anci ent Near East , t he st ars wer e uni versal l y r egar ded as di vi ne bei ngs,
and ' ast ral myt hol ogy' is per vasi ve t hr oughout t he l i t erat ure of Egypt and
Mes opot ami a. The Babyl oni ans i n part i cul ar ma de met i cul ous obser vat i ons of
t he heavenl y bodi es , and t he i nt erpl ay of t hei r scientific cal cul at i ons and t hei r
rel i gi ous bel i efs r emai ns a fasci nat i ng ar ea of i nqui ry. Of part i cul ar i nt erest wa s
t he wi des pr ead as s umpt i on t hat t errest ri al event s wer e over seen, mani pul at ed,
or even compl et el y cont r ol l ed by cel est i al forces ( see, e. g. , t he heavenl y t empl e
of Ma r duk as t he pr ot ot ype for t he eart hl y Babyl oni an t empl e) . The ver y fact
t hat t he heavens wer e t he epi t ome of pr edi ct abl e, or der ed movement ma de
2 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
di st ur bances i n t hat or der - comet s , fal l i ng st ars, t he uneven move me nt s of t he
pl anet s ( t he ' wander er s ' ) - deepl y t r oubl i ng.
Nor di d i nt erest i n t he heavens di mi ni s h wi t h t he advent of t he di st i nct i vel y
Gr eek phi l osophi cal appr oach. The st ars r emai ned t he st andar d of perfect order,
and i f t he per sonal i t i es of var i ous heavenl y bodi es be c a me l ess pr onounced,
t hey wer e consi der ed n o l ess, and pr obabl y mor e, di vi ne for all t hat . As t r onomi -
cal obser vat i on cont i nued and pr oduced ma ny qui t e r emar kabl e achi evement s .
Ast rol ogy, whi ch had doubt l ess al ways been pr esent i n s ome f orm, t ook on a
great er pr omi nence in t he Hel l eni st i c per i od, dr awi ng upon bot h anci ent ast ral
rel i gi osi t y and scientific ( or pseudo- sci ent i f i c) obser vat i on.
Biblical Resonance
The bi bl i cal t ext s ar e ver y mu c h a par t of t hi s wor l d. I n t he He b r e w Bi bl e,
mot i f s dr awn from ast ral myt hol ogy ar e al mos t cert ai nl y pr es ent i n pl aces l i ke
Isai ah 14 and Ezeki el 28, even i f t hey have been subst ant i al l y r ewor ked i n t he
l i ght of t he I s r ael i t es ' di st i nct i ve r el i gi ous hi st ory. The wor s hi p of heavenl y
bodi es wa s r egul ar l y c onde mne d, s howi ng t hat it wa s cons i der ed a cl ear and
pr esent danger by t he bi bl i cal aut hor s. Yet t he f oundat i onal t ext of Gen. 1.14
left r oom for a posi t i ve engagement wi t h anci ent ast r onomy, whi ch coul d of
cour se bl eed easi l y i nt o mor e ast r ol ogi cal specul at i ons. ( What do we ma ke , for
exampl e, of t he br ont ol ogi a and hor os copes wi t hi n t he hyper - or t hodox commu-
ni t y at Qumr an? ) The s upr emacy of YHWH, meanwhi l e, coul d b e effect i vel y
demons t r at ed by not i ng t hat h e i s t he cr eat or of heaven and eart h, t he one wh o
cal l s t he st ars by na me , t he Lor d of t he heavenl y h o s t
Anci ent cos mol ogy i s equal l y i mpor t ant for correct l y si t uat i ng t he t ext s of
t he NT. Paul ' s st at ement s about t he ' spi r i t ual forces of wi ckednes s ' have ri ght l y
been seen agai nst t he backdr op of cos mi c bat t l es of good and evi l , whi l e hi s
ment i on of ' as cendi ng t o heaven' mus t be under s t ood wi t hi n s ome concept ual
framework of t he uni ver se. The s ame goes for t he descent / ascent mot i f s i n t he
gospel s, and J ohn i n part i cul ar. NT apocal ypt i c pai nt s its pi ct ur e of t he past ,
pr esent and fut ure on a cos mi c canvas , yet cosmol ogi cal i nvest i gat i ons of, for
exampl e, t he book of Revel at i on have been deepl y flawed and t her e is muc h
yet t o be sai d. Al l usi ve r ef er ences t o Jesus as t he agent of creat i on, wi t h t hei r
echoes of Pr over bs 8 and Genes i s 1, ar e i nexpl i cabl e apar t from s ome under -
st andi ng of anci ent concept i ons of t he cr eat i on and or der i ng of t he cos mos .
A sur vey of t hi s mat er i al i s sor el y needed. One furt her ref i nement i n t he
pr esent st udy, however , i s t he at t ent i on devot ed t o t he status of cosmol ogi cal
st at ement s i n t he NT. For ma n y year s , one woul d i magi ne t hat t he Hol y Gr ai l
of bi bl i cal cos mol ogy wa s t he pr eci se det er mi nat i on of t he number of ' l ayer s '
or ' t i er s ' of t he cos mos , wi t h debat es r agi ng bet ween t wo, t hr ee, four, seven,
ni ne, or mor e of such l ayer s. Whi l e t hi s i s a l egi t i mat e ar ea of i nqui ry, it has
di st ract ed at t ent i on from ot her, per haps mor e pr essi ng, concer ns about bi bl i -
Introduction 3
cal vi ews of t he uni ver se. Mor eover , ma n y of t he st udi es s eem t o pr es uppos e
t hat t her e wa s a t aci t , shar ed ' sci ent i f i c' vi e w on t hes e mat t er s whi ch me t wi t h
mor e or l ess uni ver sal appr oval i n t he anci ent wor l d. The bi bl i cal wr i t er s t hen
reflect, or i n i gnor ance devi at e from, what ever yone kne w about t he or der of t he
cos mos ( i ncl udi ng t he put at i vel y al l - i mpor t ant quest i on of h ow ma n y l ayers it
had) .
But i s t hi s real l y t he case? Bon a fide scientific obser vat i ons of t he cos mos
go back at l east t o t he Babyl oni ans , and Pl at o had gi ven a fairly compr ehens i ve
phi l osophi cal account of t he uni ver se i n hi s hi ghl y i nfl uent i al Timaeus. But
even i n t he l at t er case, he goes out of hi s wa y t o st at e t hat t hi s i s onl y hi s best
guess as t o what i s goi ng on, and t hat one ought not t o s uppos e it is a defi ni t i ve
st at ement at al l . Mor e t o t he poi nt , none of t he NT st at ement s about t he cos mos
has anyt hi ng r emot el y l i ke t he flavour of scientific i nqui r y about it. Rat her t han
bei ng i l l egi t i mat e or di st ort ed ver si ons of a s uppos ed anci ent scientific consen-
sus, NT cos mol ogy s eems t o have an ent i rel y different funct i on.
Coul d t he NT wr i t er s, whi l e gr avi t at i ng t owar ds a ' t hr ee- t i er ed' vi ew of t he
heavens , not have count enanced al t ernat i ve s chema for ' l evel s ' of t he cos mos ,
wi t h t he full awar enes s t hat t hese wer e not meant t o be defi ni t i ve account s of
what is sci ent i fi cal l y t he case, but r at her wer e empl oyed becaus e t hey ser ved
useful l i t erary or t heol ogi cal pur pos es ? I f t hi s is t he case, t hen t he sear ch for
one defi ni t i ve model of t he cos mos is doome d from t he start. Rat her, we ought
t o r ecogni ze t he l at i t ude peopl e i n t he first cent ur y had t o empl oy different
model s accor di ng t o t hei r t heol ogi cal needs . Thi s does not mar k t he end of t he
i nqui ry i nt o NT cosmol ogy, but t he pr oper begi nni ng. Does t he ' t hr ee he a ve ns '
s cheme, for i nst ance, refer t o t he r egi ons bel ow t he moon, above t he moon, and
above t he s un - or mi ght it be a t ri -part i t e di vi si on of t he ni ght sky, wi t h t he
Mi l ky Way at t he apex, wi t h t he ot her t wo r egi ons dr oppi ng i nt o t he nor t h and
sout h? Thes e ar e quest i ons wel l wor t h aski ng, pr ovi ded we al so ask wh y Paul
mi ght have us ed t hi s par t i cul ar s chema at t hi s poi nt i n hi s Epi st l e. Li kewi s e,
one can expl or e t he us e of huperouranos, ' t he above heaven' , and fruitfully
compar e it wi t h Pl at o' s sel f - consci ousl y fictionalized depi ct i on of t he ascent of
t he soul i n t he Phaedrus. What we ar e l oat h t o do i s t o pi t t he var i ous al l usi ons
t o cel est i al mat t er s i n a ki nd of gl adi at ori al combat , wi t h one model emer gi ng
vi ct ori ous above t he rest .
The Present Volume
What ever di fferences ma y exi st bet ween anci ent s and moder ns wi t h r espect t o
concept i ons of t he uni ver se, t her e i s an agr eement t hat t he cos mos i s a l arge
pl ace. Yet it has occupi ed a r el at i vel y s mal l pl ace i n f or mal NT st udy. The
f ol l owi ng essays hope t o begi n t o redress t he bal ance. I n or der t o ensur e t hat n o
pot ent i al l y r el evant mat er i al is over l ooked, we have adopt ed a sur vey format ,
r angi ng t hr ough t he canon book by book ( or wher e neces s ar y sect i on by sect i on,
4 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
as i n t he Paul i ne cor pus) . One mi ght easi l y wr i t e a monogr aph on sel ect ed
aspect s of, for exampl e, t he cos mol ogy of 2 Pet er. It i s hoped t hat t he br oad
st rokes of t he pr esent vol ume wi l l faci l i t at e t hi s t ype of det ai l ed i nvest i gat i on
i n t he fut ure. At t he s ame t i me, we hope t o ma ke a mat er i al cont r i but i on t o t he
field by a consi st ent emphas i s on t he t heol ogi cal di mens i ons of NT cosmol ogy.
Even wi t hi n t hi s l i mi t ed spher e, t her e i s ampl e r oom for di sagr eement , and
we wi l l wel come al t ernat i ve expl anat i ons of how t he Ne w Test ament wr i t er s
t hought about t he wor l d ar ound t hem; ' i n a mul t i t ude of counsel l or s t her e is
s af et y' ( Pr ov. 11. 14).
Our col l ect i on begi ns wi t h Eddi e Ad a ms ' erudi t e over vi ew of anci ent cos -
mol ogi cal and cos mogoni cal posi t i ons. Fol l owi ng t hi s, our var i ous essayi st s
syst emat i cal l y wor k t hei r wa y t hr ough t he NT canon, aski ng t he si mpl e ques -
t i on: What cos mol ogi cal l anguage and concept s does t hi s aut hor empl oy, and
h ow does t hi s cos mol ogy i nf or m and affect t he aut hor ' s t heol ogi cal poi nt ( s) ?
We have i nt ent i onal l y gi ven mu c h l at i t ude t o t he cont r i but or s, not requi r-
i ng a set st ruct ure or pat t er n for t he essays. As a resul t , t he essays fol l ow t he
exper t i se and i nt erest of t he schol ar s and t ouch on a wi de var i et y of t heol ogi cal
t opi cs i n t he NT. Yet, even mor e t han wa s ant i ci pat ed at t he out set , t her e are
several consi st ent and cruci al t hemes t hat bubbl e t o t he t op i n al most ever y
t reat ment . Thes e i ncl ude t he f oundat i onal dual i t y of heaven and eart h, t he wa y
i n whi ch cosmol ogi cal l anguage serves t o f orm Chri st i an i dent i t y, communi t y
and wor l d vi ew, and t he ever - pr esent hope of t he eschat on, i t sel f i nevi t abl y
descr i bed i n cos mol ogi cal t er ms. Al l of t he st udi es confi rm our i ni t i al i mpr es-
si on: t he NT aut hor s r egul ar l y empl oy cosmol ogi cal l anguage ( mor e t han has
been r ecogni zed i n t he past ) and whe n t hey do so it i s al ways for t he pur pos e of
maki ng i mpor t ant t heol ogi cal , pol emi cal and exhor t at i onal poi nt s. Weltbild and
Weltanschauung ar e i next ri cabl y and subst ant i al l y i nt ert wi ned.
For t hei r assi st ance i n pr epar i ng t he manuscr i pt , t he aut hor s woul d l i ke t o
t hank: St efan McBr i de, J ames Dar l ack, Camer on Mor an and El i sa Donnel l y;
and from Cont i nuum, Domi ni c Mat t os , J oanna Kr amer , Pat ri ci a Har dcast l e and
Davi d Sander s.
1
G RAE C O - RO MAN A N D AN C I E N T J EWI SH C OS MOLOGY
E d wa r d A d a ms
Cos mol ogy seeks t o expl ai n t he ori gi n, st r uct ur e and dest i ny of t he physi cal
uni ver se. Cos mol ogi cal concer ns occupi ed maj or t hi nker s of Gr eek and Roma n
ant i qui t y. Quest i ons whi ch have exer ci sed cosmol ogi st s i n moder n t i mes wer e
r ehear sed l ong ago by t he phi l osopher s of anci ent Gr eece.
1
Is t he cos mos st at i c
or devel opi ng? I f t he uni ver se had a begi nni ng (i n t i me) , h ow di d it emer ge?
What i s its si ze and compos i t i on? Is it finite or boundl es s ? Ho w i s mat t er di s-
t ri but ed i n t he uni ver se? Does t he uni ver se s how si gns of i nt el l i gent desi gn? Or
is our wor l d t he pr oduct of chance event s? What wi l l be t he ul t i mat e fate of t he
uni ver se? Recent l y pr opos ed model s of t he emer gence, evol ut i on and future
of t he cos mos have t hei r pr ecedent s i n anci ent t heori es. The cycl i c, ekpyr ot i c
t heor y of sci ent i st s Paul St ei nhardt and Nei l Tur ok, accor di ng t o whi ch t he
uni ver se exper i ences an endl ess seri es of cos mi c eras begi nni ng wi t h a ' bi g
ba ng' and endi ng i n a ' bi g cr unch' ,
2
i s a cont empor ar y r evi val of t he St oi c vi ew
of cos mi c cycl es. The cycl i c cos mol ogy advanced by physi ci st s Laur i s Ba um
and Paul Fr ampt on, whi ch has it t hat our uni ver se wi l l shat t er i nt o smi t her eens
in an event cal l ed t he ' bi g r i p' , wi t h each shar d goi ng i nt o t he f ormat i on of ne w
uni ver ses,
3
has a pr ecur sor i n t he anci ent At omi c t heor y of t he gener at i on and
dest ruct i on of uni ver ses.
The Ol d Test ament cont ai ns mat er i al of a cosmol ogi cal nat ur e, t hough it
l acks a ' sci ent i f i c' cos mol ogy of t he ki nd devel oped, from t he si xt h cent ur y BCE
onwar d i n anci ent Gr eece. Ol d Tes t ament wr i t er s ar e not r eal l y i nt er est ed i n
cos mol ogy for its own sake; one mi ght say t hat t he ki nd of cosmol ogi cal refl ec-
t i on we find i n t he Ol d Test ament is mor e t heol ogi cal cosmol ogy. Some ot her
earl y J ewi s h wr i t er s, t hough, do i ndul ge i n a mor e specul at i ve ( and myst i cal )
st yl e of cosmol ogy. Cos mol ogi cal i nt erest is especi al l y evi dent i n t he Jewi sh
apocal ypt i c l i t erat ure.
1. See M. R Wright, Cosmology in Antiquity (London: Routledge, 1995).
2. R J. Steinhardt and N. Turok, 'Cosmic Evolution in a Cyclic Universe', Physical Review
(web-based journal) D65 126003 2002.
3. L. Baum and R Frampton, 'Turnaround in Cyclic Cosmology', Physical Review Letters
(web-based journal) 98.071301 (16 Feb 2007).
6 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
Thi s essay is a sur vey of Gr aeco- Roman and anci ent J ewi s h cosmol ogy,
set t i ng t he scene for t he chapt er s t hat fol l ow on t he Ne w Test ament . The first
and l onger par t deal s wi t h Gr aeco- Roman vi ews ; t he s econd l ooks at t he Ol d
Test ament and earl y J ewi s h mat er i al .
1. Graeco-Roman Cosmology
Scientific st udy of t he fabric of t he uni verse began in Gr eece i n t he si xt h cent ury
BCE, wi t h t he wor k of t he I oni an, or Mi l esi an, nat ural phi l os opher s ; but t her e
was by t hi s t i me a l ong t radi t i on of ast r onomi cal i nt erest and i deas about t he
st ruct ure of t he uni ver se i n Mes opot ami a (especi al l y Babyl oni a) and Egypt , and
s ome i mpor t ant ast r onomi cal di scover i es had al r eady been made. For exampl e,
from ar ound t he t hi rt eent h cent ur y BCE, t he Egypt i ans had i dent i fi ed t he five
pl anet s vi si bl e t o t he naked eye ( Mer cur y, Venus, Mar s , Jupi t er and Sat urn) and
over fort y st el l ar const el l at i ons, i ncl udi ng t he si gns of t he Zodi ac.
4
Ther e wer e
al so i n ci rcul at i on var i ous popul ar myt hi cal account s of h ow t he wor l d came t o
be. Hes i od' s Theogony ( on whi ch see bel ow) is t o s ome ext ent a synt hesi s of
( compet i ng) ar chai c cos mogoni cal myt hs .
Gr eek cosmol ogi cal enqui ry, from t he si xt h cent ury BCE onwar ds, was based
on t he recogni t i on that t he ext ernal uni verse is a wel l - ordered syst em and t he
convi ct i on t hat this order is open t o rat i onal anal ysi s and expl anat i on. It was t he
st rong sense t hat t he earl y Gr eek phi l osophers had of t he wor l d' s orderl i ness t hat
pr ompt ed t he appl i cat i on of t he wor d kosmos ( K O O | J O S ) , whi ch had t he pr i mar y
sense of ' or der ' , t o t he physi cal uni verse. In earl y Gr eek usage, t he t er m was us ed
wi t h reference t o specific t ypes of soci al orderi ngs, such as t he seat i ng order of
r ower s ( Homer , Od. 13. 77), t he order of sol di ers ( Homer, 77. 12. 225) and wel l -
ordered pol i t i cal states such as Spart a ( Her odot us 1.65). It was al so used for order
in a general sense ( Herodot us 2. 52; 9. 59) .
5
Accor di ng t o Char l es Kahn, t he t er m
was appl i ed t o t he cosmi c order ' by consci ous anal ogy wi t h t he good order of
soci et y' .
6
Initially, kosmos was empl oyed for t he order exhi bi t ed by t he uni verse,
and t hen, by ext ensi on, it came t o desi gnat e t he uni verse itself as a wel l - ordered
syst em.
7
One anci ent t radi t i on ( Di ogenes Laert i us 8.48) accor ds Pyt hagor as t he
di st i nct i on of bei ng t he first t o call t he uni verse by t he na me of kosmos, but we
cannot be cert ai n t hat he was responsi bl e for t hi s semant i c move. By t he t i me of
Pl at o in t he fourth cent ury BCE, kosmos was wel l est abl i shed as a t echni cal t er m
4. Wright, Cosmology, p. 15.
5. These earlier non-cosmological senses did not fall into disuse after the cosmological
usage took off, but carried on alongside it.
6. C. H. Kahn, Anaximander and the Origins of Greek Cosmology (New York: Columbia
University Press, 1960), p. 223.
7. See further E. Adams, Constructing the World: A Study in Paul's Cosmological Language
(SNTW; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000), pp. 44-6; Kahn, Anaximander, pp. 219-30; G. Vlastos,
Plato's Universe (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), pp. 3-22.
1. Graeco-Roman and Ancient Jewish Cosmology 7
for t he uni ver s e
8
( whi ch was al so desi gnat ed by t he expressi ons, ' t he whol e' ,
T O bAov, ' t he al l ' , T O T T C C V , ' al l t hi ngs' , T T C C V T O: , and ' heaven' , oupccvos). The
anci ent Gr eeks saw beaut y i n order. In addi t i on t o its vari ous senses rel at i ng t o
order, t he wor d kosmos had t he aest het i c senses ' decor at i on' and ' ador nment '
(especi al l y t he ador nment of women, e.g., Homer , 77. 14. 187; Her odot us 5. 92).
9
When appl i ed t o t he physi cal worl d, t herefore, kosmos not onl y conveyed t he
i dea of a wel l - arranged st ruct ure, it i ndi cat ed t hat t he orderl i ness di spl ayed i n t he
uni verse was a ' beaut y- enhanci ng or der ' .
1 0
The earl y Gr eek nat ural phi l osopher s
of ant i qui t y wer e profoundl y awar e t hat we l i ve in an ' el egant uni ver s e' .
1 1
The earl i est pi ct ur e of t he cos mos we encount er i n Gr eek l i t erat ure i s t hat
as s umed i n t he epi c poe ms of Homer , t he Iliad and t he Odyssey. The ear t h i s
vi ewed as a ci rcul ar, flat di sc s ur r ounded by t he gr eat r i ver Ocean (77. 18. 607;
cf. Her odot us 4. 8) , and t he s ky as a bowl - l i ke hemi s pher e of br onze or i r on
(77. 5. 504; 17. 425; Od. 15. 329) , cover i ng t he flat ear t h. Be l ow its surf ace, t he
ear t h ext ends downwar ds as far as Tar t ar us (77. 8. 14). Anaxi mander , i n t he
si xt h cent ur y BCE, pi ct ur ed t he ear t h as cyl i ndr i cal i n s hape, l i ke a c ol umn
dr um, hangi ng wi t hout suppor t i n t he s ur r oundi ng ai r .
1 2
I n t he fourt h cent ur y
BCE, wi t h Pl at o, Eudoxus and especi al l y Ar i st ot l e, t he ' cl as s i cal ' vi ew of t he
cos mos t ook s hape; t hi s vi ew wa s gi ven i t s defi ni t i ve expr es s i on by Pt ol emy i n
hi s Almagest ( meani ng ' t he Gr eat es t ' ) wr i t t en i n t he second cent ur y CE. Accor d-
i ng t o t he Ari st ot el i an cos mi c model , t he eart h lies at t he cent r e of t he cos mos ,
s ur r ounded by a numbe r of concent r i c, r ot at i ng s pher es , t o whi c h t he sun,
moon and pl anet s are at t ached ( see furt her bel ow) . The out er mos t s pher e of t he
cos mi c s ys t em i s t hat of t he fixed st ars. Thi s under s t andi ng of t he st r uct ur e of
t he uni ver s e, i n its Pt ol emai c f orm, pr evai l ed unt i l Coper ni cus i n t he si xt eent h
cent ury. A hel i ocent r i c pi ct ur e of t he cos mos wa s pr opos ed by Ar i st ar chus of
Samos ( b. c. 320 BCE), but t hi s wa s al most uni ver sal l y r ej ect ed.
1 3
A sur vey of Gr eek and Hel l eni st i c cosmol ogi cal t hought shoul d begi n wi t h
t he poet Hes i od, wh o l i ved ar ound 700 BCE. Hes i od br i dges t he myt hol ogi zi ng
of hi s pr edecessor s and t he rat i onal i zi ng of hi s phi l osophi cal successor s.
1. 1. Hesiod
Hes i od' s Theogony (Birth of the Gods) is a geneal ogy of t he gods of Gr eece,
i nt er woven wi t h epi sodes i n t he t al e of t he successi on of di vi ne ki ngs . The
8. Plato, Phileb. 29e; Polit. 269d; cf. Xenophon, Mem. 1.1.11.
9. It is from kosmos in the sense of 'adornment* that we get the English words 'cosmetic',
'cosmetics', 'cosmetician'.
10. Vlastos,Plato's Universe, p. 3. Cf. Plato, Tim. 30a.
11. B. Greene, The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for
the Ultimate Theory (London: Jonathan Cape, 1999).
12. G. S. Kirk, J. E. Raven and M. Schofield, The Presocratic Philosophers: A Critical
History with a Selection of Texts (2nd edn; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), texts
nos. 122-4, pp. 133-4.
13. Wright, Cosmology, pp. 153-6.
8 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
poem, wr i t t en i n t he Epi c st yl e, i s set fort h as a s ong t aught t o Hes i od by t he
Mus e s whe n t hey appear ed t o hi m on Mount Hel i kon (Theog. 1-32), whi ch
gi ves it t he char act er of a ki nd of di vi ne revel at i on. The compos i t i on is par t l y an
at t empt t o combi ne var i ous l ongst andi ng myt hs about t he gods i nt o a c ommon
nar r at i ve. It t r aces t he hi st ory of t he gods from t he begi nni ng t o t he est abl i shed
and uncont est ed r ei gn of Zeus . The first gods are personi fi cat i ons of t he mai n
component s of t he cos mos , s o t hei r appear ance const i t ut es t he f or mat i on of t he
physi cal wor l d. Fi rst came Chaos . Aft er Chaos came Eart h, Tart arus and Er os.
Chaos t hen pr oduced Er ebos ( dar k pl ace) and Ni ght ( ni ght ) . Fr om t hem came
Ai t her ( bri ght ness) and Hemer a ( day) . Ear t h br ought forth Our anos ( heaven) ,
mount ai ns and sea. A st ri ki ng feature of t hi s cosmogony is t he pr i macy of Chaos.
What Hes i od meant by ' Cha os ' wa s t he subj ect of muc h anci ent di scussi on and
cont i nues t o be debat ed. An at t ract i ve ( t hough not unpr obl emat i c) suggest i on i s
t hat it refers t o t he gap bet ween t he sky and eart h, whi ch woul d ma ke t he first
st age of cr eat i on t he separ at i on of what wa s f ormerl y one ma s s .
1 4
The i dea of
t he separ at i on of an ori gi nal l y i ndi st i nct eart h and sky wa s a wel l - est abl i shed
feat ure of Anci ent Ne a r East er n ( ANE) cos mogoni es .
1 5
The rest of t he gods i n t he geneal ogy ar e most l y ant hr opomor phi c myt hi cal
per s onages . The Ti t ans, t he younges t of wh o m is Cr onos , t he Cycl opes and t he
hundr ed- handed gi ant s ar e t he offspri ng of Ear t h and Our anos . The Ol ympi an
gods , t he younges t of wh o m i s Zeus , ar e t he chi l dren of Cr onos and hi s si st er
Rhea.
The cl as h be t we e n t he Ti t ans and t he Ol ympi ans , and t he l at er confl i ct
bet ween Zeus and Typhoeus, t akes t he wor l d t o edge of t ot al col l apse. Hes i od
empl oys col ourful i mager y of cos mi c cat ast r ophe t o depi ct t he bat t l es of t he
di vi ni t i es (Theog. 678- 705, 847- 68) . Wi t h al l oppos i t i on vanqui s hed, Zeus
secures t he st abl e exi st ence of t he cos mos . Hes i od s eems t o suggest t hat t he
eart h i s ever l ast i ng (Theog. 116-17). Phi l o ( on wh o m see bel ow) r egar ds hi m
as t he fat her of t he Pl at oni c doct r i ne t hat t he wor l d i s cr eat ed and i ndest ruct i bl e
(Aet. Mund. 17).
1.2. The Milesians
It wa s i n t he har bour ci t y and t r adi ng cent r e of Mi l et us , i n t he r egi on of I oni a,
dur i ng t he si xt h cent ur y BCE, t hat t he first Gr eek at t empt s t o gi ve a r at i onal ,
non- myt hol ogi cal account of t he st r uct ur e of t he cos mos we r e ma de . The pi o-
neer i ng figures wer e Thal es , Ana xi ma nde r and An a x i me n e s .
1 6
Thes e t hi nker s
mai nt ai ned t hat t he uni ver s e or i gi nat ed from a si ngl e gener at i ve pr i nci pl e or
arche. They expl ai ned t he emer gence of t he cos mos i n bi ol ogi cal t er ms , as
14. Kirk, Raven and Schofield, Presocratic Philosophers, p. 39.
15. Ibid., pp. 4 3 ^.
16. None of the writings of the Presocratic philosophers has survived. Their teachings are only
known from fragments, reports and summaries.
1. Graeco-Roman and Ancient Jewish Cosmology 9
gr owt h f r om a seed. The Mi l es i ans we r e hyl ozoi s t s : t hey bel i eved t hat t he
c os mos i s ani mat e. For Thal es , wh o m Ar i st ot l e i dent i fi es as t he f ounder of t he
arche t ype of cos mogony, t he or i gi nat i ng pr i nci pl e wa s wat er .
1 7
Thal es al so
s eems t o have t aught t hat t he ear t h floats l i ke a pi ece of a wo o d .
1 8
He appar -
ent l y pr edi ct ed t he occur r ence of a sol ar ecl i pse i n t he cour s e of a par t i cul ar
year, and hi s pr edi ct i on c a me t r ue .
1 9
Ho w he ma n a g e d t o do s o i s st i l l debat ed.
Ana xi ma nde r hel d t hat t he s eed from whi c h t he uni ver s e gr ew wa s s ecr et ed by
an i ndet er mi nat e ent i t y whi c h he cal l ed ' t he boundl e s s ' (apeirori).
20
He con-
t ended t hat t he wor l d' s or der i s mai nt ai ned by t he i nt er act i on of oppos i t es .
2 1
Ther e ar e r hyt hmi cal shi ft s bet ween, on t he one hand, heat and dr ought , and
on t he ot her, col dnes s and r ai n, as i n t he s eas ons of s umme r and wi nt er , but
an over al l equi l i br i um i s mai nt ai ned becaus e of a cer t ai n j us t i ce i n t he nat ur e
of t hi ngs t hat pr event s one of t he oppos i ng f orces from gai ni ng compl et e
as cendancy.
2 2
Ana xi me ne s , l i ke Thal es , t ook t he arche of t he c os mos t o be a
mat er i al pr i nci pl e, but he i dent i fi ed t he s ubs t ance as air. He mai nt ai ned t hat
t he phys i cal el ement s coul d be expl ai ned as t r ans f or mat i ons of air. Thus air,
by r ar ef act i on, changes i nt o fire, and t hr ough condens at i on changes i nt o wat er
and ear t h.
2 3
The Mi l esi ans appar ent l y bel i eved t hat t he cos mos woul d event ual l y r et ur n
t o t he pr i nci pl e out of whi ch it ar ose; t hus gener at i on woul d be mat ched by
di ssol ut i on at t he end of i t s nat ur al l i f e.
2 4
Ther e i s a t radi t i on whi ch st at es t hat
t he Mi l esi ans, or Anaxi mander at l east , hel d t o a cycl i c vi ew of cos mi c hi st ory,
accor di ng t o whi ch t he cos mos is gener at ed, di ssol ved and gener at ed agai n i n
endl ess cycl es .
2 5
But we cannot be sur e t hat t he I oni ans t hems el ves es pous ed
such a s cheme.
17. Aristotle, Met. 983b6. Aristotle, who is our only source of information on this point,
presents Thales as teaching that all things were made of water and that water continues as the
material substrate of all things. It is possible, though, that what Thales actually taught was that
the earth emerged from water, and that he was simply reflecting the belief that the earth rose
out of the primaeval ocean, found in ANE cosmogony and also in Homer (77. 14.201,246). But,
on the other hand, Thales could well have transformed the mythological notion into a physical
theory. Anaximenes, his successor, certainly believed that air was the actual material source and
substrate of everything, and it is generally assumed that he was pursuing a line of reasoning
instigated by Thales. See the discussion in Kirk, Raven and Schofield, Presocratic Philosophers,
pp. 88-95.
18. Aristotle, de Caelo 294a28.
19. Kirk, Raven and Schofield, Presocratic Philosophers, pp. 81-2.
20. text no. 101.
21. Ibid., text no. 110 (the extant fragment of Anaximander). On the role of the opposites in
the process of world-formation, see text nos. 118,119,121.
22. Ibid., pp. 119-20.
23. Ibid., pp. 144^8.
24. So Aristotle in Afef. 983b6.
25. Eusebius, Ev. Praep. 1.7.
1 0 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
1.3. Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles and Anaxagoras
Her acl i t us (c. 5 4 0 - 4 8 0 BCE) s poke of t he wor l d- or der as unmade: ' i t al ways
was and i s and shal l be: an ever l i vi ng fire'.
26
He concei ved of fire as t he basi c
form of mat t er , t hough it wa s not an ori gi nat i ng subst ance as wat er and ai r
wer e for Thal es and Ana xi me ne s .
2 7
Al t hough l at er St oi cs ascr i bed t o hi m t hei r
doct r i ne of t he per i odi c dest r uct i on and r egener at i on of t he cos mos by fire, t hi s
fragment of hi s t eachi ng s eems t o i nval i dat e t he at t ri but i on and r at her i ndi cat es
t hat he t ook t he vi ew t hat t he wor l d had nei t her begi nni ng nor end.
2 8
He was
t hus an earl y pr oponent of t he ' s t eady- s t at e' vi ew of t he uni ver se. Fi r e, whi ch i s
t he under l yi ng subst r at e, eart h and sea ar e t he t hree mai n cos mi c cons t i t uent s .
2 9
Tr ans f or mat i ons be t we e n t hes e t hr ee mas s es ar e goi ng on all t he t i me, but i n
such a wa y t o pr es er ve t he quant i t y of each, and t o mai nt ai n t he st abi l i t y of
t he whol e. Her acl i t us s poke of t he logos ( Xoyos ) as t he pr i nci pl e of uni t y and
bal ance.
3 0
Thi s logos is accessi bl e t o al l , t hough t he maj or i t y fail t o compr ehend
it.
Par meni des of El ea ( bor a c. 514) is one of t he mos t compl ex and i nt ri gu-
i ng Pr esocr at i c phi l os opher s . Hi s cos mol ogi cal vi ews we r e expr es s ed i n a
poe m t hat has not been pr es er ved i n its t ot al i t y. The p oe m falls i nt o t wo par t s,
c ommonl y l abel l ed, ' Th e Way of Tr ut h' and ' The Way of Opi ni on' . I n t he
first, Par meni des i nsi st s t hat obj ect i ve t rut h cannot be ar r i ved at vi a sensor y
per cept i on, si nce t he senses cannot be t rust ed. Rat her , j udge me nt s about what
is t r ue mus t be ma d e by r eas on al one. On l ogi cal gr ounds , onl y what ' i s ' can
be t he pr oper subj ect of h u ma n t hought and di scour se; what ' i s not ' mus t be
excl uded.
3 1
Si nce wha t ' i s ' i s not subj ect t o change, t hat whi c h exi st s, i. e. , t he
uni ver se, is cont i nuous and i ndi vi si bl e, uncr eat ed and i mper i s habl e.
3 2
I n t he
s econd par t , however , Par meni des const r uct s a cos mol ogy ( i nvol vi ng t he al l -
per vas i venes s of l i ght and ni ght ) pr eci sel y on t he basi s of s ens or y obser vat i on
and t he opi ni on of mor t al s , t he appr oach he has j us t rej ect ed. Ho w t hese t wo
sect i ons of t he p oe m ar e meant t o r el at e t o each ot her i s not or i ous l y uncl ear.
Succeedi ng Gr eek phi l os opher s gener al l y t ook ' The Way of Tr ut h' as r epr e-
sent i ng Pa r me ni de s ' f undament al posi t i on. Si nce hi s ar gument her e st ymi es
empi r i cal enqui r y i nt o t he nat ur e of t he cos mos , s ubs equent nat ur al phi l os o-
pher s wh o wa nt e d t o f ol l ow t he empi r i cal r out e had t o ans wer Par meni des '
obj ect i on or ci r cumvent i t .
3 3
26. Kirk, Raven and Schofield, Presocratic Philosophers, text no. 217 (= Heraclitus, fr. 30).
27. Ibid., p. 198.
28. Kahn, Anaximander, pp. 225-6; J. V. Luce, An Introduction to Greek Philosophy (London:
Thames and Hudson, 1992), p. 44.
29. Kirk, Raven and Schofield, Presocratic Philosophers, text no. 218.
30. Ibid., pp. 186-8.
31. 76K/., text no. 291.
32. Ibid., pp. 249-53.
33. Luce, Introduction, pp. 54-5.
1. Graeco-Roman and Ancient Jewish Cosmology 11
Empedocl es mai nt ai ned t hat t he cos mos der i ves from t he four el ement s or
' r oot s ' as he cal l ed t hem, eart h, air, fire and wat er .
3 4
He rej ect ed Par meni des '
di sal l owance of t he concept of change, and s aw change i n t he nat ur al wor l d as
i nfl uenced by t he oppos i ng forces of ' l ove ' (at t ract i on) and ' st r i f e' ( r epul s i on) .
3 5
Fol l owi ng Ar i st ot l e' s i nt erpret at i on of hi m (de Caelo 1.10), Empedocl es is
usual l y seen as pr opoundi ng a cycl i c cosmol ogy, and t he r el evant ext ant frag-
ment s of hi s wor k have been r ead i n t hi s light. On a convent i onal under s t andi ng
of Empe doc l e s ' cosmol ogy, t he wor l d al t ernat es bet ween t he t ot al as cendancy
of l ove and t he compl et e domi nat i on of st r i f e.
3 6
At t he hei ght of l ove, t he el e-
ment s ar e compl et el y amal gamat ed, and t her e i s no di st i nct i on bet ween eart h,
sea, et c. Wh e n strife i s domi nant , t he el ement s ar e compl et el y separ at e. A
wor l d- ar r angement s uch as we have at pr esent i s pos s i bl e dur i ng t wo phas es
of t he cycl e, wh e n l ove i s i n pr ocess of ascendi ng, or whe n strife is i ncr eas-
i ng. However , i n r ecent year s , s ome Empedocl ean schol ar s have r ej ect ed t he
' c os mi c ' i nt erpret at i on of Empe doc l e s ' cycl e, ar gui ng t hat he wa s r at her t al ki ng
about t he r egul ar cycl es of nat ur e, wi t hi n a fixed and st abl e c os mos .
3 7
Cert ai nl y,
Empedocl es vi ewed t he wor l d as havi ng a bi rt h. A r emar kabl e feat ure of hi s
t heor y of or i gi ns i s hi s account of t he evol ut i on of ani mal and huma n life, whi ch
i n a cr ude wa y ant i ci pat es t he Dar wi ni an expl anat i on.
3 8
Anaxagor as (c. 500-^428) shar ed t he vi ew of hi s pr edecessor s t hat it i s ' qui t e
i mpossi bl e t hat anyt hi ng shoul d c ome i nt o bei ng from t he non- exi st ent or be
di ssol ved i nt o i t ' .
3 9
I n hi s opi ni on, t he cos mos is compos ed of an infinite number
of ' s e e ds ' of var i ous s ubs t ances , each of whi c h cont ai ns at t he s a me t i me a
t i ny por t i on of ever y ot her s ubs t ance.
4 0
Ini t i al l y exi st i ng i n a pr i meval mi xt ur e,
Mi nd (nous) set i n mot i on a pr ocess whi ch spr ead and separ at ed t he seeds, such
as hot and cot , dr y and wet , f or mi ng t he or der ed uni ver s e t hat we exper i ence.
4 1
Anaxagor as concei ved of Mi nd as a quas i - aut onomous , al l - per vadi ng force,
but he avoi ds suggest i ng t hat it is god.
4 2
Hi s successor, Di ogenes of Apol l oni a
(fl. 4 4 0 - 3 0 BCE) i dent i fi ed t he cos mi c i nt el l i gence wi t h air, whi ch f ol l owi ng
Anaxamenes he t ook t o be t he mat er i al sour ce of al l t hi ngs. Di ogenes t ook t he
st ep of cal l i ng t he di r ect i ng i nt el l i gence ' g od' .
4 3
34. Kirk, Raven and Schofield, Presocratic Philosophers, text nos. 346-7.
35. Ibid., text no. 348 (= Empedocles fr. 17.1-13).
36. Luce, Introduction, pp. 63-4.
37. See D. J. Furley, The Greek Cosmologists. Volume 1: The Formation of the Atomic Theory
and its Earliest Critics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), pp. 101-2.
38. Kirk, Raven and Schofield, Presocratic Philosophers, pp. 302-5.
39. Ibid., text no. 496.
40. Ibid., pp. 365-8,376-8.
41. Ibid., pp. 362-5.
42. Wright, Cosmology, p. 171.
43. Kirk, Raven and Schofield, Presocratic Philosophers, text no. 603.
12 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
1.4. TheAtomists
The At omi st s, Leuci ppus and hi s younger but mor e wel l - known cont empor ar y
Democr i t us , rej ect ed t he i dea t hat t he uni ver se ar ose from a si ngl e mat er i al pr i n-
ci pl e, such as wat er or air. I n t hei r vi ew, t he cos mos is ma de u p of i ndest ruct i bl e
part i cl es of mat t er cal l ed at oms (atomon meani ng ' uncut t abl e' ) . Thes e part i cl es
are of different si zes and shapes but ar e so t i ny t hat t hey are bel ow t he t hreshol d
of visibility. At oms are infinite i n numbe r and mov e r andoml y i n infinite space
or voi d.
4 4
They col l i de, bounce back and i nt erl ock t o form aggr egat es t hat can
be seen and t ouched. The or der ed cos mos came about whe n a mas s of at oms
col l ect ed i n a r egi on of t he voi d. Thei r col l i si ons caused a vor t ex or whi r l wi nd
and t he at oms began at t achi ng t hems el ves t o each ot her t o form compounds .
The heavi er compounds col l ect ed at t he cent r e t hus f or mi ng t he eart h. The
l i ght er compounds , i gni t ed by t he whi r l i ng mot i on, f or med t he subst ance of t he
cel est i al bodi e s .
4 5
Thi s wor l d came i nt o bei ng by chance and necessi t y; t her e
was n o cos mi c i nt el l i gence di r ect i ng t he physi cal pr ocesses.
Our cos mos is one of ma ny kosmoi i n infinite space. Leuci ppus and De m-
ocri t us mai nt ai ned t hat t her e ar e i nnumer abl e wor l ds , di fferi ng i n si ze, shape
and const i t uency.
4 6
Some wor l ds have no sun and moon, i n ot her s t he cel est i al
l umi nar i es ar e l arger t han i n our wor l d, and i n ot hers t hey ar e mor e numer ous .
Worl ds ar e at var i ous st ages of gr owt h: s ome ar e j ust i n pr ocess of emer gi ng,
s ome ar e fully devel oped, and s ome ar e near i ng t hei r end. Si nce all compounds
are i nherent l y dest ruct i bl e, our cos mos and all ot her wor l ds wi l l event ual l y be
dest royed. Leuci ppus and Democr i t us bel i eved t hat a cos mos i s dest r oyed whe n
it cl ashes wi t h anot her cos mos . The part i cl es of a shat t ered cos mos go i nt o t he
f ormat i on of ne w wor l ds .
1.5. Plato
Pl at o di smi ssed t he At omi s t s ' vi ew t hat our cos mos i s one of an infinite number
of acci dent al l y caused wor l ds . He i nsi st ed on t he si ngul ari t y and uni quenes s of
our cos mos , and mai nt ai ned t hat t he or der mani f est ed i n t he cos mos wa s not
t here by chance but has been i mpos ed upon it by a di vi ne i nt el l i gence.
Pl at o set out hi s cos mol ogy i n det ai l i n hi s t r eat i se, t he Timaeus, whi c h
became t he mos t i mpor t ant and i nfl uent i al cosmol ogi cal wor k i n ant i qui t y.
4 7
I n
t hi s wr i t i ng, Pl at o dr aws a di st i nct i on bet ween t he r eal m of bei ng and t he r eal m
of becomi ng. The f ormer is t he r eal m of i deas, whi ch i s et ernal , unchangi ng
and accessi bl e t o r eason; t he l at t er i s t he r eal m of sense- per cept i on, t he vi si bl e
44. Ibid., pp. 413-16.
45. Ibid., text no. 563.
46. Ibid., text no. 565.
47. See D. T. Runia, Philo of Alexandria and the Timaeus of Plato (Philosophia Antiqua 44;
Leiden: Brill, 1986), pp. 46-57. Runia states that (p. 57), 'the Timaeus was the only Greek prose
work that up to the third century AD every educated man could be assumed to have read'.
1. Graeco-Roman and Ancient Jewish Cosmology 13
wor l d. Pl at o t el l s h ow t he vi si bl e c os mos wa s f or med by a cr af t sman- dei t y
- a demi ur ge - wh o shaped t he r aw mat er i al at hi s di sposal i nt o an or der ed
st ruct ure bas ed on t he model of t he et ernal f or ms. The ext ent t o whi ch Pl at o
i nt ended hi s r eader s t o i nt erpret t he det ai l s of t he cr eat i on- scheme l i t eral l y has
been debat ed. That he cal l s hi s account a ' l i kel y st or y' (Tim. 29D) t el l s agai nst a
st rai ght forwardl y literal i nt erpret at i on. Whet her he meant t o convey t he t hought
t hat t he wor l d had an act ual begi nni ng i n t i me has been a part i cul ar mat t er of
cont roversy. Ari st ot l e i nt erpret ed hi m l i t eral l y on t hi s poi nt , but Pl at o' s suc-
cessors i n t he Academy, from Xenocr at es onwar d, mai nt ai ned t hat he wa s not
assi gni ng a t empor al st art i ng-poi nt t o i t .
4 8
It shoul d be not ed t hat Pl at o does not accent uat e t he di st ance bet ween t he
i deal r eal m and t he vi si bl e wor l d. Nor does he emphas i ze, i n Par meni dean
fashi on, t he unt r ust wor t hy nat ur e of t he sense- per cept i bl e: i n fact he cl ai ms
t hat t he facul t i es of si ght and hear i ng ar e gifts from heaven (Jim. 46C- 47D) .
Cert ai nl y, t he vi si bl e cos mos l acks t he absol ut e perf ect i on of t he r eal m of bei ng
( due t o an el ement of ' br ut e fact ' i n i t ), but Pl at o st resses h ow closely t he mat e-
ri al cos mos r esembl es t he i deal pat t er n.
4 9
The cos mos is descr i bed as ' beaut i -
ful ' ; ' t he fairest of all t hat has c ome i nt o exi st ence' ( 29A) ; ' mos t fair and mos t
good' ( 30B) .
Pl at o t el l s us t hat t he cos mos has been perfect l y const r uct ed ( 32D- 33B) . Al l
exi st i ng mat t er has been us ed i n up its pr oduct i on; not hi ng has been left out si de.
In its format i on, t he el ement s have been perfect l y combi ned. The cos mos cannot
be i nj ured by s omet hi ng ext ernal t o it, nor can it be undone by i nt ernal di shar-
mony. Ther ef or e, it i s not subj ect t o decay and di ssol ut i on. Onl y t he cr af t sman
hi msel f can unma ke what he has creat ed. But t he demi ur ge i s whol l y good
( 30A) and coul d never engage i n such an evi l act as t o dest r oy t hi s cons ummat e
achi evement and wor k of art. The physi cal cos mos i s t hus ever l ast i ng and i nde-
st ruct i bl e. It i s a l i vi ng creat ure ( 30CD) wi t h body and soul ( 34B) . The wor l d' s
body consi st s of t he four el ement s; t he soul ext ends t hr oughout t he body and
ani mat es it. ( Pl at o' s wor l d- soul be c a me a cent ral feat ure of Mi ddl e Pl at oni c
cosmol ogy. ) As r egar ds i t s st ruct ure, t he cos mos i s spheri cal i n s hape ( 33B) ,
rot at i ng on its own axi s, wi t h t he eart h at t he cent r e ( 40B- C) . The movement s of
t he heavenl y bodi es ser ve t o mar k t i me, whi ch Pl at o cal l s t he movi ng l i keness
of et erni t y ( 37D) . The r evol ut i ons of t he heavens al so have an et hi cal funct i on,
mani f est i ng a cos mi c or der t hat huma n behjgs^ shoul d repl i cat e i n t hems el ves
( 47B- C) .
5 0
The cos mos i s such an excel l ent st ruct ure of mat chl ess beaut y t hat
it mus t be r egar ded as ' a per cept i bl e God made i n t he i mage of t he I nt el l i gi bl e'
( 92C; cf. 34B; 68E) .
48. F. M. Cornford, Platos Cosmology: The Timaeus of Plato (reprint of 1935 original; India-
napolis: Hackett, 1997), p. 26.
49. See C. J. de Vogel, 'Was Plato a Dualist?', Theta-Pi 1 (1972), 4-60.
50. Cf. Plato's Laws 897A-B.
14 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
Aft er a per i od of rel at i ve negl ect , t her e wa s a r evi val of Pl at o' s cosmol ogi cal
t eachi ng in t he first cent ur y BCE l eadi ng t o t he movement gener al l y known as
Mi ddl e Pl at oni s m.
5 1
Phi l o and Pl ut ar ch, Mi ddl e Pl at oni st s of t he first cent ur y
CE, demons t r at e a cl ose knowl edge of t he Timaeus ( on Phi l o, see bel ow) .
1.6. Aristotle
Ari st ot l e had mu c h t o say about t he st ruct ure and wor ki ngs of t he physi cal
cos mos in t he cour se of hi s vast phi l osophi cal pr oj ect .
5 2
A number of hi s wor ks
are r el evant t o t he t opi c, but especi al l y t he t reat i se known as De Caelo (On the
Heavens).
Ar i st ot l e mai nt ai ned t hat t he c os mos i s et er nal , havi ng nei t her begi nni ng
nor end (De Caelo 1. 10-12). Th e c os mos i s spher i cal i n f or m, and l i mi t ed i n
ext ent ( 1. 5- 7) . Ther e i s n o e mpt y s pace be yond it nor wi t hi n it. He vi ewed
mat t er as ext endi ng cont i nual l y t hr oughout t he uni ver s e l eavi ng no gaps . At
t he cent r e i s t he ear t h, whi c h i s enci r cl ed by concent r i c s pher es t o whi c h
t he heavenl y bodi es ar e affixed. The out er most spher e, encas i ng t he whol e, is
t he s pher e of t he fixed st ars. The t er r est r i al s pher e i s ma d e u p mai nl y of t he
el ement ear t h, whi c h has on i t s sur f ace wat er , and i s encl os ed by air, whi c h
i s i n t ur n envel oped by a s pher e of fire. Ar i st ot l e di d not , t hough, t hi nk t hat
t he el ement s we r e compl et el y di st i nct ; he al l owed for t hei r i nt er penet r at i on
and t r ansf or mat i on. Ab ov e t he l unar s pher e, mat t er i s of a di fferent char act er .
The heavenl y bodi es and t hei r s pher es ar e not c ompos e d of any of t he f our
t errest ri al el ement s , but a ' fifth e l e me nt ' , ai t her ( 2. 7) . Ar i s t ot l e l i mi t ed change
t o t he s ubl unar y spher e.
For bot h Pl at o and Ar i st ot l e, per f ect mot i on wa s ci rcul ar. However , t he
pl anet s (literally, t he wander er s ) di d not appear t o exhi bi t t hat mot i on consi s-
tently. They s eemed t o devi at e occasi onal l y from t hei r r ot at i ons, t ur ni ng back
from t hei r east war d movement i n rel at i on t o t he const el l at i on and movi ng west -
war d for a whi l e - a phe nome non known as ret rogradat i on. Eudoxus , a younger
cont empor ar y of Pl at o, offered a mat hemat i cal expl anat i on of pl anet ar y move -
ment s t hat t ri ed t o account for t hi s phenomenon. He pr opos ed t hat t he pat hs
of t he cel est i al bodi es wer e pr oduced b y t he rot at i ons of concent r i c spher es
movi ng at different vel oci t i es and wi t h different axes, wi t h t he eart h as t he
shar ed cent r e ( Ari st ot l e, Meta. 12. 8. 9- 10) . Cal l i ppus t hen modi f i ed Eudoxus '
t heor y ( 12. 8. 11) . Ar i st ot l e ma de hi s own adapt at i ons t o t he t heory, posi t i ng
t he exi st ence of no l ess t han fifty-five rot at i ng spher es ( 12. 8. 12- 14) . Wher eas
51. On which see J. M. Dillon, The Middle Platonists: A Study of Platonism 80 B.C. to A.D.
220 (London: Duckworth, 1977).
52. On Aristotle's cosmology see L. Elders, Aristotle's Cosmology: A Commentary on the De
Caelo (Philosophical Texts and Studies 13; Assen: Van Gorcum & Comp. N.V., 1965); F. Solmsen,
Aristotle's System of the Physical World: A Comparison with his Predecessors (Ithaca: Cornell
University Press, 1960).
1. Graeco-Roman and Ancient Jewish Cosmology 15
for Eudoxus and Cal l i ppus, t he spher es exi st ed onl y on a t heoret i cal l evel , for
Ar i st ot l e, t hey wer e act ual cor por eal ent i t i es.
Ar i st ot l e t hus pr oduced an account of t he or der ed uni ver se as a mechani zed
syst em. For Ari st ot l e, t he uni ver se coul d not be t he cause of its own mo v e me n t
A pr i me move r wa s requi red, ext er nal t o t he uni ver se: ' s omet hi ng whi ch move s
wi t hout bei ng move d' (Met 12. 7. 2). Ari st ot l e di d not hesi t at e t o cal l t he pr i me
mover ' god' ( 12. 7. 7- 9) , t hough Ar i st ot l e' s ' god' i s not t he per sonal dei t y of t he
Ol d Test ament .
1.7. Epicurus and Lucretius
Epi cur us ( 341- 271 BCE) wa s t he one of t he mos t i mpor t ant phi l osopher s of t he
Hel l eni st i c er a and f ounder of t he i nfl uent i al Epi cur ean school of phi l osophy.
He wr ot e ext ensi vel y, pr oduci ng a gr and ' t heor y of ever yt hi ng' , but mos t of hi s
wor k has not survi ved. Thr ee l et t ers have been pr es er ved by Di ogenes Laer t i us
whi ch pr ovi de a s ummar y of hi s t eachi ng.
5 3
Epi cur us accept ed t he At omi s t s ' account of t he nat ur e of real i t y and t he
or i gi ns of t he cos mos . Our wor l d, one of an infinite numbe r of wor l ds in infinite
space, c a me i nt o exi st ence, not by di vi ne agency,
5 4
but t hr ough t he acci dent al
col l i si on and combi nat i on of at oms i n an ar ea of t he voi d. It wi l l event ual l y
per i sh whe n t he compound br eaks up and t he at oms di sper se. He expl ai ned
t he life of a cos mos us i ng a bi ol ogi cal mode l .
5 5
A wor l d gr ows by t aki ng i n
nour i s hment . It absor bs at omi c ma t t e i unt i l it r eaches t he peak of mat uri t y.
Aft er gr owt h, t her e i s decl i ne, whe n mor e part i cl es are exuded t han t aken i n,
unt i l event ual l y t he cos mi c body, no l onger abl e t o resi st t he ext er nal forces
bear i ng down upon it, becomes so we a k t hat it col l apses and di si nt egrat es.
Lucr et i us ( 99- 55 BCE), a dedi cat ed Epi cur ean, gi ves an exposi t i on of Epi -
cur us ' physi cal syst em in hi s De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things); t hi s
i s t he fullest ext ant account of Epi cur ean cosmol ogy. I n Book 5, he at t acks
Pl at oni c and Ari st ot el i an bel i ef i n cos mi c i ndest ruct i bi l i t y. The wor l d is a
mor t al ent i t y, t he col l apse of whi ch i s i nevi t abl e.
5 6
Its end ma y c ome ' wi t hi n
s ome short t i me' . He al so st ri kes at t he bel i ef t hat t he cos mos has been di vi nel y
or der ed and ma de for t he benefit of h u ma n bei ngs . He ar gues t hat t he wor l d is
far t oo flawed t o be of di vi ne ori gi n ( 5. 195- 234) . Mos t of t he ear t h' s surf ace
is uni nhabi t abl e, and of what is left, mu c h is wi l d and i nfert i l e. Ext r emes of
53. Diogenes Laertius 10. Charred fragments of his work, On Nature, were discovered at
Herculaneum. With technological advances, the text is gradually being recovered.
54. Epicurus believed in the existence of the gods but denied that they involve themselves in
cosmic processes or human affairs.
55. See F. Solmsen, 'Epicurus on the Growth and Decline of the Cosmos', AJP 74 (1953),
34-51.
56. Lucretius (5.235-415) offers four arguments for the destruetibility of the cosmos. See
further Adams, The Stars Will Fallfrom Heaven: 'Cosmic Catastrophe 'in the New Testament and
its World (London: T&T Clark, 2007), pp. 112-13.
16 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
weat her frustrate huma n agri cul t ural endeavour s. Lucr et i us t hus di ssent s from
t he vi ew t hat t he wor l d has been shaped t owar d t he best possi bl e end.
1.8. The Stoics
Cos mol ogy wa s a chi ef i nt erest of t he St oi cs, and St oi c cos mol ogy is a fas-
ci nat i ng subj ect in its own r i ght .
5 7
Ha h m t hi nks t hat ' f r om t he t hi rd cent ur y
BC t o t he s econd cent ur y AD mor e peopl e i n t he Medi t er r anean wor l d s eem t o
have hel d a mor e or l ess St oi c concept i on of t he wor l d t han any ot he r ' .
5 8
He
mai nt ai ns t hat t he St oi c wor l d vi ew wa s t he mos t i nfl uent i al i n Gr aeco- Roman
ant i qui t y. In shar p cont rast t o t he Epi cur eans, t he St oi cs vi ewed t he cos mos as
t he wel l - const r uct ed pr oduct of a di vi ne creator. They di ffered from Pl at o and
Ari st ot l e, t hough, i n maki ng t he di vi ne i nt el l i gence, ' god' , co- ext ensi ve wi t h
t he cos mos . ' God' was under st ood as t he rat i onal , act i ve pr i nci pl e - t he logos
- pr esent i n mat t er ( and i nsepar abl e from i t ), per vadi ng it and gi vi ng it or der
( Di ogenes Laert i us 7. 134). The St oi cs wer e t hus t hor oughgoi ng pant hei st s ( and
t hor oughgoi ng mat eri al i st s) , i dent i fyi ng t he cos mos i t sel f wi t h god ( Di ogenes
Laert i us 7. 137) . The ascri pt i on of full di vi ni t y t o t he cos mos s hows how hi ghl y
t hey es t eemed it.
Pl at o and Ari st ot l e rej ect ed t he not i on of space out si de t he cosmos, but t he
Stoics argued for t he exi st ence of an infinite voi d ext ernal t o t he cos mos (i nt o
whi ch t he cos mos expands when it i gni t es at t he conf l agrat i on) .
5 9
They made
a t ermi nol ogi cal di st i nct i on bet ween ' t he whol e' and ' t he al l ' , whi ch hi t hert o
had been used synonymousl y: t he former is t he physi cal cos mos ; t he latter is t he
cosmos and t he voi d t oget her.
6 0
The cos mos i s concei ved in Ari st ot el i an fashi on
as a series of spheri cal t i ers, wi t h eart h at t he cent re and t he heavenl y bodi es at
t he peri phery.
6 1
Terrestrial mat t er di vi des i nt o t he four terrestrial el ement s: eart h,
fire, ai r and wat er. But t hese el ement s are t ransformat i ons of a mor e basi c form of
mat t er, ' desi gni ng fire', t o be di st i ngui shed from t he el ement fire.
62
The celestial
bodi es are composed of aither, whi ch is ' desi gni ng fire' in its purest form, t hough
t he St oi cs appear t o have shi ed away from cal l i ng ai t her a fifth el ement .
6 3
57. See D. Hahm, The Origins of Stoic Cosmology (Columbus: Ohio State Press, 1977);
M. Lapidge, 'Stoic Cosmology', in J. M. Rist (ed.), The Stoics (Berkeley, CA/London: University
of California Press, 1978), pp. 160-85; idem, 'Stoic Cosmology and Roman Literature, First to
Third Centuries A.D.', ANRW363 (1989), 1379-1429.
58. Hahm, Origins, p. xiii.
59. A. A. Long and D. N. Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers: Translations of the Principal
Sources with Philosophical Commentary (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), pp.
294-7.
60. Long and Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers, text no. 44A.
61. Lapidge,'Stoic Cosmology', p. 177.
62. Long and Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers, text no. 46D; Lapidge, 'Stoic Cosmol-
ogy', p. 167.
63. Cicero, de fin. 4.12. Lapidge, 'Stoic Cosmology', p. 178.
1. Graeco-Roman and Ancient Jewish Cosmology 17
On t he St oi c t heor y of cos mogony, t he uni ver se ori gi nat es in a pur e fire
( none of t he Gr eek nat ur al phi l osopher s posi t ed creat i on ex nihilo). The fiery
subst ance changes t o ai r and t hen t o wat er, and out of t he pr i mor di al wat er t he
four el ement s ari se, and t hese combi ne i n ma ny ways t o ma ke u p t he vari et y
of t hi ngs and f or ms of life on eart h ( Pl ut arch, Stoic. 1053a; Di ogenes Laer t i us
142). Fr om t he r esi due of t he ori gi nal fiery mat t er, t he heavenl y bodi es are
made. Wor l d- f or mat i on i s n o ^ t hough, a pur el y mechani cal pr ocess; it i s t he
act i vi t y of a di vi ne agent act i ng i n and t hr ough nat ur al forces ( Di ogenes Laer-
t i us 135-6). Si nce god is cont er mi nous wi t h mat t er, t he el ement al changes t hat
br i ng about t he var i egat ed cos mos are t ransf ormat i ons of god hi msel f.
Event ual l y, t he pr es ent or der ed wor l d wi l l r et ur n t o i t s or i gi nal st at e of
pur e fire.
64
The cel est i al bodi es , es peci al l y t he s un, whi c h f eed on t er r est r i al
moi s t ur e, wi l l i n due cour s e s uck t he c os mos dry, caus i ng it t o i gni t e and
t ur ni ng it i nt o a t ot al cos mi c fireback ( Ci cer o, Nat. de. 2. 118) . Thi s i s not a
sad end for t he c os mos , but a whol l y pos i t i ve end i n t he life of god, wh e n
he r eaches t he pe a k st at e of hi s exi s t ence.
6 5
Af t er t he conf l agr at i on, t he fire
abat es and t he pr oces s of wor l d- f or mat i on begi ns al l over agai n. The cycl e
r epeat s i t sel f endl essl y. The per i odi c des t r uct i on of t he c os mos i nt o fire wa s
t aught by t he ear l y St oi cs. It wa s a ba ndone d by s ome mi ddl e St oi cs , i ncl ud-
i ng Pos i doni us , wh os e phi l os ophi cal t eachi ng wa s ver y i nfl uent i al ( Phi l o,
Aet. 76- 7) . But it s eems t o ha ve been wi del y accept ed i n Ro ma n St oi ci s m
of t he first cent ur y CE. Seneca, i n a n u mb e r of pas s ages , t r i es t o por t r ay t he
des t r uct i ve e ve nt .
6 6
The St oi cs, l i ke Pl at o, vi ewed t he c os mos bi ol ogi cal l y ( but t hey pr es s ed
t he bi ol ogi cal anal ogy furt her t han Pl at o) . It compr i s es body and s oul ,
6 7
and
is ani mat ed b y ' br eat h' ( T T V E U I J C C ) . ' Br e a t h' i s t he l i fe-force of t he c os mos ,
sust ai ni ng it and mai nt ai ni ng i t s uni t y.
6 8
The c os mos has bi r t h and gr owt h, but
it ' mus t be not sai d t o d i e ' ;
6 9
t he conf l agrat i on i s not t he deat h of t he c os mos
but i t s a c me .
For t he St oi cs, ever y event i n hi st ory i s connect ed i n a causal chai n: ' not hi ng
in t he wor l d exi st s or happens caus el es s l y' .
7 0
The whol e cour se of uni ver sal
hi st ory, i ncl udi ng ever y det ai l of it, is det er mi ned i n advance by t he di vi ne i nt el -
64. On the Stoic theory of ekpurosis or cosmic conflagration, see A. A. Long, 'The Stoics
on World-Conflagration', The Southern Journal of Philosophy 23 (1985), 13-37; J. Mansfeld,
'Providence and the Destruction of the Universe in Early Stoic Thought', in M. J. Vermaseren (ed.),
Studies in Hellenistic Religion (Leiden: Brill, 1979), pp. 129-88.
65. Mansfeld,'Providence', pp. 176-77.
66. Ben. 6.22.; Consol ad Marc 26.6-7; Nat. Quest. 27; Thyes. 835-884. Similar imagery is
found in Lucan's Civil War. See further E. Adams, The Stars Will Fall.
67. Long and Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers, text no. 46E (= Plutarch, Stoic. 1052C-D).
68. See Long and Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers, pp. 280-9.
69. #w/ .,textno.46E.
70. / ta/ ., text no. 55N.
18 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
l i gence. Thi s hi st or y i s r epeat ed exact l y, or al most exact l y, i n ever y successi ve
wor l d- cycl e.
7 1
St oi c cos mol ogy suppor t ed nat ur al t heol ogy.
7 2
The St oi cs bel i eved t hat god' s
exi st ence and pr ovi dent i al act i vi t y coul d be deduced from t he st ruct ure of t he
uni ver se. Thi s i s possi bl e becaus e of t he affinity bet ween h u ma n r eas oni ng and
t he r eason or logos t hat per meat es t he cos mos .
The St oi cs al so dr ew connect i ons bet ween cos mol ogy and et hi cs. The goal
of et hi cs, i n St oi ci sm, is t o l i ve i n accor dance wi t h nat ur e, or t he uni ver sal
or der .
7 3
The not i on of cont empl at i ng and l ear ni ng from t he gover nance of t he
cos mos be c a me a pr omi nent et hi cal t heme i n Roma n St oi ci sm ( Epi ct et us, Disc.
1.9.4; 1.10.10). A key concer n wa s t o find one' s pl ace i n t he uni ver s al s cheme
( Epi ct et us, Disc. 3. 1. 19- 20; 24. 95) .
The huma n i ndi vi dual , t he hous ehol d and t he ci t y and t he st at e wer e vi ewed
as mi cr ocos ms of t he cos mi c order. Accor di ng t o Ci cer o,
The Stoics hold that the world is governed by divine will: it is as it were a city and
state shared by men and gods, and each one of us is part of this world. From this it is
a natural consequence that we prefer the common advantage to our own.
7 4
The st r eam of t hought t hat t he order of t he uni ver se is anal ogous t o t he ci vi c or der
r an deep in Gr eek cosmol ogi cal reflection, goi ng back as far as Anaxi mander ,
7 5
and was , I have ar gued el sewher e, a feat ure of t he wor l dvi ew evoked by t he
wor d kosmos ( when appl i ed t o t he uni ver s e) .
7 6
In St oi ci sm, t he i deol ogi cal
rami fi cat i ons of t hi s l i nkage wer e ma de expl i ci t . Thus we see t he pol i t i ci zi ng of
cos mol ogy and its us e t o l egi t i mat e t he soci al or der and t he power st ruct ures of
t he day.
1.9. A High View of the Cosmos
It s houl d be cl ear from t he f or egoi ng t hat Gr eek and Hel l eni st i c cos mol ogy, up
t o Ne w Test ament t i mes, wa s on t he whol e worl d-affi rmi ng. Out r ageous is t he
vi ew, whi c h has been qui t e popul ar , t hat Gr eek t hi nker s from Pl at o onwa r ds
deni gr at ed and despi sed t he mat er i al wor l d. As Jaap Mans f el d st at es,
By and large, Greek philosophical cosmology is positive and optimistic. This holds
especially for Plato, and for Aristotle and the Stoics, who have been decisively influ-
enced by Plato in this respect. [T]he mainstream of Greek thought concerning the
cosmos is optimistic; such less positive views as can be found, are, as a rule, against
the current or are only introduced for the sake of an argument
77
71. See Ibid., pp. 308-13.
72. See Ibid., pp. 323-33.
73. Luce, Introduction, p. 135.
74. Cicero, On Ends, 3.62. Long and Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers, 57F.
75. Kirk, Raven and Schofield, The Presocratic Philosophers, text no. 110.
76. E. Adams, Constructing the World, pp. 69-75.
77. J. Mansfeld, 'Bad World and Demiurge: a Gnostic Motif from Parmenides and Empe-
1. Graeco-Roman and Ancient Jewish Cosmology 19
Pl at o, as we have seen, at l east i n t he Timaeus, wa s hi ghl y ent husi ast i c about
t he phys i cal cos mos , cal l i ng it a ' god' . The t endency t hr oughout t he Hel l eni st i c
er a and earl y Roma n t i mes , wa s t owar d vener at i on of t he cos mos , r at her t han
vi l i fi cat i on of it. St oi ci sm, as we have seen, fully di vi ni zed t he cos mos , and
dur i ng t he per i od 100 BCE t o 100 CE, t here devel ops, accor di ng t o Schwei zer ,
' a r el i gi on of t he c o s mo s ' .
7 8
A di st i nct i on bet ween t he cos mos and god i s mai n-
t ai ned i n t he St oi ci zi ng Ar i st ot el i an t reat i se, De Mundo, but t he wor k never t he-
l ess exempl i f i es t he cos mi c pi et y of t he t i me.
7 9
2. Ancient Jewish Cosmology
We t ur n n o w t o Ol d Test ament and earl y J ewi s h cosmol ogy. The Ol d Test ament
cont ai ns a gr eat deal of mat er i al t hat coul d be cal l ed cosmol ogi cal . However , it
is onl y wi t hi n t he last gener at i on t hat schol ar s have r ecogni zed t he i mpor t ance
of cr eat i on and cos mol ogy t o Ol d Test ament t heol ogy. For t he best par t of t he
t went i et h cent ur y ( and bef or e) , cos mol ogy was vi ewed a mi nor and l at e i nt erest
i n t he Ol d Tes t ament .
8 0
Accor di ng t o Ger har d von Rad, i n an i nfl uent i al essay
publ i s hed i n 1936, t he doct r i ne of cr eat i on di d not emer ge i n Israel unt i l after
t he exi l e; it devel oped out of t he Hebr ew under st andi ng of sal vat i on i n hi st or y.
8 1
Ol d Test ament schol ar s t ended t o negl ect or hi st ori ci ze references t o t he nat ur al
wor l d i n t he He br e w Bi bl e. The mount i ng publ i c concer n for t he envi r onment ,
t hough, has br ought about an ups ur ge i n i nt erest i n what t he Bi bl e, part i cul arl y
t he Ol d Test ament , has t o say about t he wi der cr eat ed or der .
8 2
St udy of Ol d Tes-
t ament t hought r egar di ng creat i on i n rel at i on t o cont empor ar y envi r onment al
concer ns is n o w a maj or gr owt h area. Cont r a von Rad, it s eems unl i kel y t hat
cos mol ogi cal i nt erest wa s a l at e devel opment i n t he hi st ory of Israel . As not ed
earl i er, t her e wa s a l ong hi st or y of cosmol ogi cal specul at i on, l argel y myt hi cal ,
i n t he cul t ur es s ur r oundi ng Israel , and t he Ol d Test ament exhi bi t s cor r espon-
dences wi t h t hei r i deas. I f cos mol ogy wa s a l ongst andi ng i nt erest i n t he ANE
general l y, it i s pr obabl e t hat Israel shar ed t hat wi der i nt erest from an earl y st age
docles to Lucretius and Philo', in R. van den Broek and M. J. Vermaseren (eds.), Studies in
Gnosticism and Hellenistic Religions (Leiden: Brill, 1981), pp. 261-314 (263).
78. Schweizer, ac5|ia,rDiV7 7: 1024-94(1037).
79. A more negative cosmology did come to expression with later Platonic thinkers, especially
Numenius, and among (to use the increasingly problematic label) 'Gnostic' authors.
80. Cf. T. E. Fretheim, God and the World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology of
Creation (Abingdon: Nashville, 2005), p. ix.
81. G. von Rad, 'The Theological Problem of the Old Testament Doctrine of Creation', in The
Problem of the Hexateuch and Other Essays (New York: McGraw Hill, 1966), pp. 131-43.
82. See the seminal essay, B. W. Anderson, 'Creation and Ecology', in B. W. Anderson (ed.),
Creation in the Old Testament (Issues in Religion and Theology 6; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984),
pp. 152-71. For more recent work, see the Earth Bible, vols 2-4.
20 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
i n its hi st or y.
8 3
I sr ael ' s own cos mol ogi cal t hought ma y wel l have devel oped,
t o s ome ext ent , i n rel at i on t o t he cul t . The st ruct ure of cr eat i on and t hat of t he
t empl e ar e correl at ed i n Ps . 78. 69: ' He bui l t hi s sanct uar y l i ke t he hi gh heavens ,
l i ke t he eart h, whi ch he has f ounded f or ever ' . Schol ar s have not ed cor r espon-
dences bet ween t he Pri est l y account of creat i on i n Gen. l . l - 2 . 4 a and God' s
i nst ruct i ons t o Mos es for t he const r uct i on of t he t aber nacl e i n Exodus 2 5 - 3 1 ,
suggest i ng ' a homol ogy of wor l d bui l di ng and t empl e bui l di ng' .
8 4
In t he Ol d Test ament , t he cr eat ed uni ver se is mos t frequent l y desi gnat ed
' heaven( s ) and ear t h' .
8 5
I n t he Sept uagi nt , K O O | J O S wi t h t he sense wor l d or
uni ver se occur s onl y in t he l at er wr i t i ngs, 2 and 4 Maccabees (5 and 4 t i mes
respect i vel y) and t he Wisdom of Solomon ( 19 t i mes) , wor ks ori gi nal l y wr i t t en
in Gr eek, and not t ransl at i ons from t he Hebr ew. Thi s i s not t o say, t hough,
t hat t he Hebr ew Bi bl e i t sel f has little or no concept i on of an or der l y cos mos .
That Go d has est abl i shed a wel l - or der ed and wel l - r egul at ed cr eat i on emer ges
from Gen. l . l - 2 . 4 a , and i s expr essed i n passages such as Ps al m 104 and Prov.
8. 22- 31.
The Ol d Test ament s eems t o pr es ume a t hree- l evel st ruct ure of t he wor l d,
wi t h a cent ral eart h, heaven above and Sheol bel ow ( Ps. 115. 16- 17; 139. 8; cf.
Sir. 1. 3).
8 6
Such a pi ct ur e, as Lui s St adel mann obser ves, i s r oot ed ' i n t he basi c
human experi ence of t he ext ernal wor l d from whos e i mpressi ons man concei ved
such an i magi nat i ve depi ct i on' , but it is al so refl ect i ve of a wi des pr ead myt ho-
l ogi cal pat t er n i n t he anci ent wor l d.
8 7
J ob 11. 8-9 suggest s a four-fol d di vi si on
of t he exper i enced uni ver se: heaven, eart h, Sheol and sea. I n Genes i s 1 (cf. Ps .
19. 1), t he phys i cal heaven ( i . e. , t he s ky) i s pi ct ur ed as a dome ar chi ng over
t he eart h, muc h l i ke t he bowl - l i ke cover i ng envi saged by Hesi od. The cur ved
st ruct ure or ' f i r mament ' pr event s t he wat er s above t he eart h from engul fi ng t he
eart h, unl ess its wi ndows ar e opened ( Gen. 7. 11; Isa. 24. 18) . In ot her pl aces
t he heavens ar e l i kened t o a canopy st ret ched out over t he ear t h ( Ps. 104. 2;
Isa. 40. 22; 44. 24; et c. ). The eart h i s concei ved as rest i ng upon f oundat i ons ( Ps.
18. 15; 82. 5; 104. 5; Isa. 24. 18; 40. 21, et c. ; J ob 9. 6 has it st andi ng on ' pi l l ar s' ) ,
whi ch ext end down i nt o t he cos mi c sea ( Ps. 24. 2) . I n J ob 26. 7, t hough, t he
eart h i s sai d t o hang from above and rest on not hi ng. J ob 26. 11 speaks of t he
' pi l l ars of heaven' . The us e of archi t ect ural i mager y i ndi cat es t hat t he wor l d i s
83. See Robert A. Oden Jr., 'Cosmogony, Cosmology', ABD 1: 1164-7.
84. J. D. Levenson, Creation and the Persistence of Evil (San Francisco: Harper & Row,
1988), p. 84. See also J. Walton, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introduc-
ing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible (Nottingham: Apollos, 2007), pp. 123-5,196-9.
85. Gen. 1.1; 2.1,4; Ps. 113.6; Jer. 10.11; etc.
86. L. J. Stadelman, The Hebrew Conception of the World: A Philological and Literary Study
(AB 39; Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1970), pp. 9-10. Though see also the critique of this
common view in Jonathan T. Pennington, 'Dualism in Old Testament Cosmology: Weltbild and
Weltanschauung', SJOT18/2 (2004), 260-77.
87. Stadelmann, Hebrew Conception, p. 9.
1. Graeco-Roman and Ancient Jewish Cosmology 21
bei ng l i kened t o a bui l di ng ( such as t he t empl e) . Thi s anal ogy is gi ven its mos t
ext ensi ve appl i cat i on i n J ob 38. 4- 7.
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements - surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone
when the morning stars sang together
and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?
In post - bi bl i cal cos mol ogi cal t radi t i on, we find a desi re t o st ruct ure and number
t he heavens . The not i on of t hree heavens , whi ch i s pr obabl y refl ect ed i n 2 Cor.
12. 2,
8 8
ma y have or i gi nat ed i n t he bi bl i cal f or mul a ' heaven and t he heaven of
heavens ' ( Deut . 10. 14; 2 Kgs 8. 27). The i dea of s even heavens s eems t o have
been mor e c ommon; it is f ound in t he Testament of Levi ( whi ch i n its pr esent
f orm i s a Chr i st i an r edact i on) , t he Apocalypse of Abraham, 2 Enoch and t he
Chr i st i an wor k Ascension of Isaiah. The seven heavens are oft en t hought t o
be connect ed wi t h t he seven pl anet s ,
8 9
but Yarbro Col l i ns poi nt s out t hat t here
is no cl ear i ndi cat i on of such a l i nk i n t he earl y J ewi s h l i t er at ur e.
9 0
4 Ezra and
2 Baruch onl y s peak of one heaven, so t here does not appear t o have been a
consi st ent J ewi s h concept i on of t he wor l d in t he first cent ur y CE.
2 . 1 . The Old Testament
In t he Ol d Test ament , cosmol ogi cal reflection serves a t heol ogi cal pur pos e.
Thi s i s cl ear from t he nat ur e ps al ms , esp. Pss. 8; 19. 1-6; 33. 6- 9; 136. 4- 9, 104,
whi ch ext ol t he vari et y, beaut y and har mony of t he cr eat ed order, not as vi rt ues
i n t hei r own right, but as t est i mony t o t he maj est y, s upr emacy and omni pot ence
of t he creat or. Admi r at i on of t he nat ur al or der and its spl endour l eads t o pr ai se
of i t s creat or. Nat ur e ps al ms not onl y el i ci t huma n pr ai se; s ome of t hem, such
as Ps . 148. 3- 10, bi d nat ur e i t sel f t o pr ai se God.
9 1
Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
88. J. D. Tabor, Things Unutterable: Paul's Ascent to Paradise in its Greco-Roman, Judaic,
and Early Christian Contexts (Lanham, MD: University Press of America), pp. 113-25, thinks
Paul is working with the seven heavens scheme, but this seems less likely.
89. Cf. the seven planetary spheres in Cicero's 'Dream of Scipio' (Republic 6.17).
90. A. Yarbro Collins, 'The Seven Heavens in Jewish and Christian Apocalypses', in idem.
Cosmology and Eschatology in Jewish and Christian Apocalypticism (JSJS 50; Leiden: Brill,
1996), pp. 21-54.
91. Fretheim, God and the World, pp. 249-68.
22 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for he commanded and they were created.
He established them forever and ever;
he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.
Praise the LORD from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost,
stormy wind fulfilling his command!
Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
Wild animals and all cattle,
creeping things and flying birds!
The var i ous par t s of t he nat ur al order, from t he cel est i al bodi es and met eor o-
l ogi cal phe nome na t o t he feat ures and creat ures of t he eart h, are cal l ed t o j oi n
in a uni ver sal accl amat i on and cel ebr at i on of t he Lor d' s sover ei gnt y and power .
Ther e ma y be an i mpl i ed cri t i que her e of t he wi des pr ead t endency i n ANE t o
dei fy par t s of nat ur e, especi al l y t he cel est i al bodi es. God' s powe r over nat ur e is
al so expr essed i n hymns and or acl es whi ch exhi bi t t he t heophany pat t ern: God
appear s and nat ur e convul ses at hi s pr es ence.
9 2
The cr eat i on of t he wor l d i s descr i bed i n Gen. 1. 1-2. 4, whi ch i s conven-
t i onal l y assi gned t o t he Pri est l y wri t er. The pas s age has r hyt hmi c feat ures
(t he r ecur r i ng us e of var i ous f or mul ae, such as ' and God s ai d' , ' and t her e was
eveni ng and t her e wa s mor ni ng' , and ' and God saw t hat it wa s good' ) gi vi ng it a
poet i c qual i t y, t hough it is still mor e pr os e t han poet r y ( when compar ed wi t h t he
nat ur e Ps al ms , especi al l y Ps al m 104, whi ch are pl ai nl y hymni c) . The cr eat i on
nar r at i ve of Gen. 1. 1-2. 4 has paral l el s wi t h ot her cos mogoni es of t he ANE,
especi al l y t he Babyl oni an cr eat i on epi c Enuma Elish. But t he di fferences are
mor e st ri ki ng, t he mos t bas i c of whi ch i s t hat t he Enuma Elisha depi ct s cr eat i on
as t aki ng pl ace t hr ough conflict, wi t h Mar duk ki l l i ng t he sea mons t er Ti amat
and f or mi ng heaven and eart h out of its spl i t car cass, whi l e Genes i s bet r ays
no hi nt of t he conflict myt hol ogy; God creat es by hi s own wor d and activity.
Unl i ke t he Enuma Elish, t he Genes i s nar r at i ve is t hor oughl y monot hei st i c (t he
pl ural of Gen. 1.26, ' l et us ma k e ' , not wi t hst andi ng) . The aut hor/ edi t or of t he
Genesi s account s eems t o be fami l i ar wi t h ol der ANE creat i on st ori es, but hi s
st ance t owar d t hem is pr edomi nant l y ant agoni s t i c.
9 3
Cr eat i on i s descr i bed as t aki ng pl ace i n successi ve st ages, over si x ' da ys ' .
Wor l d- const r uct i on i s effect ed by di vi ne c omma nd ( ' God s ai d' , 1.3, 6, 9, et c. )
92. See J. Jeremias, Theophanie: die Geschichte einer alttestamentlichen Gattung (Wissen-
schaftliche Monographien zum Alten und Neuen Testament 10; Neukirchen: Neukirchener,
1965).
93. See esp. G. F. Hasel, 'The Polemic Nature of the Genesis Cosmology', Evangelical Quar-
terly 46 (1974), 81-102.
1. Graeco-Roman and Ancient Jewish Cosmology 23
and act i on - maki ng ( 1 . 7 , 1 6 , 2 5 , 3 1 ) and separ at i ng ( 1 . 4 , 6 , 7 , et c. ). The cl i max
of t he creat i ve pr oces s is t he maki ng of humanki nd ( 1. 26- 30) . The pr i mor di al
si t uat i on i s descr i bed i n Gen. 1.2: ' t he eart h wa s f or ml ess and voi d and dar kness
cover ed t he face of de e p' . Whet her Gen. 1.1 refers t o a pr i or act of cr eat i on
- t hat of br i ngi ng t he unf or med mas s of 1.2 i nt o exi st ence - has been mu c h
debat ed. It i s ext r emel y doubt ful t hat t he aut hor / r edact or of Genes i s t hought i n
t er ms of creat i on ex nihilo, a not i on whi ch emer ged s ome t i me later. Never t he-
l ess, t he ambi guous rel at i on of 1.1 t o 1.2 cr eat ed space for t he i mpor t at i on of
t hi s l at er i dea i nt o t he t ext .
One of t he key feat ures of t he cr eat i on st ory is t he emphas i s l ai d on t he good-
ness of God' s creat i ve handi wor k. Aft er each act of cr eat i on, t he st at ement i s
made, ' a nd God s aw t hat it wa s g o o d ' ( 1 . 4 , 1 0 , 1 2 , 1 8 , 2 1 , 2 5 ) . At t he concl us i on
of God' s act i vi t y ( 1. 31) it i s st at ed compr ehens i vel y t hat ' Go d s aw ever yt hi ng
t hat he had ma de , and i ndeed, it wa s ver y good' . A t hor oughl y posi t i ve assess-
ment of t he whol e cr eat ed or der is t her eby gi ven. All t he component s of t he
uni ver se, not mer el y its h u ma n i nhabi t ant s, ar e decl ar ed t o have an i nt ri nsi c
val ue t o God, an obser vat i on t hat has r el evance for cont empor ar y envi r onmen-
tal concer ns.
Ther e are t races wi t hi n t he Ol d Test ament of t he conflict mode l of cr eat i on
whi ch i s rej ect ed i n Gen. l . l - 2 . 4 a ( Ps. 74. 12- 17; 89. 9- 10; Isa. 51. 9- 10) ,
9 4
t hough t her e ar e debat es about h ow t hi s i mager y funct i ons wi t hi n t he l i t erary
cont ext s i n whi ch we find i t .
9 5
The creat i on poe m/ hymn of Prov. 8. 22-31 f ocuses on t he pr es ence of
wi s dom al ongsi de God at t he wor l d' s or i gi ns. Wi s dom i s a di vi ne at t ri but e ( not
a separ at e ent i t y) , but for poet i c pur pos es , God' s wi s dom i s personi f i ed and gen-
der ed f emal e. She is t he speaker t hr oughout t hi s pas s age. Whet her personi fi ed
wi s dom pl ayed an act i ve par t i n cr eat i on is uncl ear becaus e of t he uncer t ai nt y
sur r oundi ng t he Hebr ew wor d i n v. 30. If t ransl at ed ' mas t er wor kma n ' , as t he
NRS V has it, Wi s dom is bei ng accor ded a r ol e i n t he bui l di ng of t he cos mos .
In t he apocr yphal wor k, t he Wisdom of Solomon ( 7. 22- 8. 1) , Wi s dom i s cl earl y
pr esent ed as God' s i nst r ument of creat i on. She i s ' t he f ashi oner of all t hi ngs '
( Wi s. 7. 22).
Si nce t he Ol d Test ament gi ves at t ent i on t o t he wor l d' s or i gi ns, it i s nat ur al
t o as s ume t hat t her e woul d be a cor r espondi ng i nt erest i n i t s fat e. Ther e are
var i ous t ext s t hat s eem t o say t hat t he cr eat ed or der i s des i gned t o be everl ast -
i ng. For exampl e, Ps . 148. 6, ci t ed above, st at es t hat t he cel est i al or der s have
been est abl i shed ' for ever and ever ' . Eccl . 1.4 speaks of t he ear t h r emai ni ng
forever. The phys i cal heavens , under s t ood t o be per manent fixtures, ser ve as a
94. On the conflict model of creation, see J. Day, God's Conflict with the Dragon and the Sea
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp. 1-61.
95. For example, some think that the reference in Ps. 74.12-17 is to the Exodus, rather than the
creation of the world.
24 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
s ymbol of endur ance and l ong- l ast i ngness ( Ps. 72. 5- 7; 78. 69; 89. 29, 36- 7) . On
t he ot her hand, t her e ar e pas s ages t hat i mpl y or s peak expl i ci t l y of a defi ni t e
end t o t he cr eat ed wor l d, above all Ps . 102. 25- 7. Thes e appar ent l y cont r adi ct or y
affi rmat i ons can be r esol ved wi t hi n a hi er ar chy of endur ance. As Cai r d st at es,
in compar i s on wi t h t he t ransi t ori ness of human exi st ence, t he eart h wi l l last till
t he end of t i me, but it i s not ever l ast i ng as God is ever l as t i ng.
9 6
Pr ophet i c t ext s,
especi al l y Zechar i ah 14, ant i ci pat e a t ransf ormat i on of t he cr eat ed order. Isa.
65. 18- 25 (cf. 66. 22) envi sages ' a n e w heaven and a ne w ear t h' , t hough schol ars
debat e whet her t hi s i nvol ves t he dest ruct i on of t he pr esent cos mi c or der or its
( non- dest r uct i ve) r enewal .
9 7
2. 2. The Apocalyptic Literature
J ewi s h apocal ypt i ci st s di spl ay a part i cul ar i nt erest i n cosmol ogi cal mat t er s.
The cor r upt i on and r edempt i on of t he nat ural wor l d ar e r ecur r i ng t hemes in
J ewi s h apocal ypt i c and rel at ed wr i t i ngs. The cor r upt i on of cr eat i on (i . e. , t he
i nt roduct i on of evi l i nt o t he cr eat ed cos mos ) is nor mal l y r el at ed t o huma n sin
or t he si ns of t he Wat cher s - t her e i s no i ndi cat i on t hat cr eat i on i s inherently
evi l . The cos mi c r enewal i s usual l y concei ved ei t her as t he ( non- cat ast r ophi c)
t ransf ormat i on of t he exi st i ng creat i on or, mor e commonl y, its dest ruct i on and
r e- maki ng.
A fasci nat i on wi t h t he st ruct ure and operat i on of t he cos mos is a not abl e feature
of t he Enochi c literature, and this seems t o reflect a t radi t i on of cosmol ogi cal
specul at i on i n t he ci rcl e wi t hi n whi ch t he literature arose. I n 1 Enoch 17- 36,
whi ch bel ongs t o t he Book of the Watchers (7 Enoch 1-37), Enoch is t aken on a
t our of t he cos mos and s hown pl aces out of t he reach of ot her human bei ngs .
9 8
The
cosmogr aphy of t hese chapt ers, whi ch is not consi st ent , has affinities wi t h ANE
and Gr eek cosmogr aphi es. Reflected, for exampl e, is t he earl y Gr eek t radi t i on
that t he eart h i s a flat di sc sur r ounded by a great river. On hi s cosmi c tour, Enoch
sees t he chamber s of t hunder and l i ght ni ng, t he source of all t he wor l d' s rivers
and t he st orerooms of t he wi nds ( 17. 1- 18. 1) . He is s hown how t he stars t urn,
and sees t he cornerst one of t he eart h and t he four wi nds whi ch bear t he whol e
cosmi c edifice ( 18. 2- 4) .
9 9
He al so visits t he pri son houses for t he seven stars and
t he fallen angel s ( 18. 13- 15; 21. 1- 10) and t he pl aces wher e t he ' t he spirits of t he
soul s of t he dead' are kept till t he final assi ze (ch. 22) . The reference t o t he seven
stars ( 18. 13- 14; 21. 3-6) is i nt ri gui ng. They are hel d account abl e for t ransgressi ng
96. Caird, Language and Imagery (Grand Rapids: Eerdmann, 1997), p. 257.
97. For fuller discussion of OT views of creation's future, see Adams, The Stars Will Fall, pp.
28-35.
98. Chapters 17-19 and 20-36 are twin accounts of the journey. On the former see K. C.
Bautch, A Study of the Geography of I Enoch 17-19 (JSJS 81; Leiden: Brill, 2003).
99. The idea of the earth resting on the four winds arises from Job 26.7. See further G. W.
E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1: A Commentary on 1 Enoch Chapters 1-36, 81-108 (Minneapolis:
Augsburg Fortress, 2001), p. 285.
1. Graeco-Roman and Ancient Jewish Cosmology 25
God' s command ( 18. 15; 21. 6). Mat t hew Bl ack connect s t he di sobedi ent stars t o
t he seven r ecogni zed pl anet s .
1 0 0
If this identification is correct , t hei r ' wander i ng'
is bei ng i nt erpret ed as an errant feature in nat ur e.
1 0 1
Overal l , t hough, t he pi ct ure
in t hese chapt ers i s of a cos mos t hat operat es accordi ng t o God' s desi gn and
command. Enoch' s j our ney t hr ough t he creat ed wor l d ' provi des a frame wi t hi n
whi ch human pr obl ems are seen i n a ne w per s pect i ve' .
1 0 2
The As t r onomi cal Book (7 Enoch 72- 82) is a sust ai ned descr i pt i on of t he
movement s of t he cel est i al bodi es from a quasi -sci ent i fi c per spect i ve. The
regul ari t y of t he cel est i al phenomena under pi ns bel i ef i n t he or der and har mony
of t he cr eat ed cos mos . The cosmol ogi cal obser vat i ons al so suppor t t he sol ar
cal endar of 364 da y s .
1 0 3
The i nt roduct i on makes cl ear, t hough, t hat t he cycl es
of nat ur e cont i nue ' t i l l t he n e w creat i on whi ch abi des forever i s cr eat ed' ( 72. 1) .
Chapt er 80, whi ch i s t hought by s ome t o be a l at er addi t i on t o t he book, descr i bes
what happens whe n t he end appr oaches, and t he nor mal l y consi st ent or der of
t he cos mos br eaks down wi t h t he i ncr ease of h u ma n si n t hat pr ecedes t he end.
2 Enoch, whi ch i s nor mal l y dat ed i n t he l at e first cent ur y CE, i s an account of
Enoch' s ascent i nt o heaven t hr ough t he seven heavens ( chs 3- 37) and hi s r et ur n
t o eart h t o t el l hi s fami l y what he has seen and i nf orm t hem of comi ng event s
( chs 38- 66) . The book s hows a deep i nt erest in t he st ruct ure of t he cos mos ,
especi al l y t he heavens . The first heaven is t he l evel of t he angel s wh o gover n
t he st el l ar const el l at i ons. The second heaven i s wher e t he condemned angel s ar e
i ncarcerat ed. The t hi rd cont ai ns paradi se, whi ch i s t he pl ace of r ewar d pr epar ed
for t he r i ght eous. On t hi s l evel is al so l ocat ed t he pl ace of puni s hment r eser ved
for t he wi cked. The fourt h heaven cont ai ns t he t racks of t he sun and t he moon.
The fifth heaven is wher e t he unf al l en Wat cher s oper at e. I n t he si xt h heaven
ar e t he angel s wh o r egul at e t he st ars and t he seasons. The sevent h and hi ghest
heaven i s t he dwel l i ng- pl ace of God.
Chapt er s 2433 are an ext ended account of t he wor l d' s creat i on from ' i nvi s-
i bl e t hi ngs ' . Fr om t he i nvi si bl e ent i t i es, whi ch exi st al ongsi de hi m, God cal l s
down Adai l and Ar ukhas , from wh o m l i ght and dar kness ori gi nat e. The nat ural
wor l d is f or med t hr ough t he creat i ve pr ocesses of condensat i on and mi xi ng.
Li ght solidifies i nt o t he upper f oundat i on, and dar kness i nt o t he l ower f ounda-
t i on. Li ght and dar kness mi x t o form wat er. Wat er solidifies t o f or m r ocks, and
t he r ocks are as s embl ed t o f or m eart h, and so on. The narrat i ve r epr esent s an
at t empt t o combi ne t he Genes i s creat i on account wi t h Per si an cos mol ogy and
Gr eek sci ence.
100. M. Black with J. C. VanderKam, The Book of Enoch or Enoch I. A New English Edition
(Leiden Brill, 1995), p. 160.
101. Bautch (Study, pp. 147-9) connects the seven stars to the Pleiades.
102. J. J. Collins, The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic Litera-
ture (2nd edn) (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), p. 58.
103. In early Judaism, there were sharp disputes about the correct calendar. See J. VanderKam,
Calendars in the Dead Sea Scrolls: Measuring Time (London: Routledge, 1998).
26 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
2. 3. Philo
Phi l o of Al exandr i a wa s t hor oughl y conver sant wi t h Gr eek cosmol ogi cal t radi -
t i ons. Hi s own cos mol ogi cal t hought is heavi l y i nfl uenced by Pl at o' s cos mol -
ogy, and al so t o a l esser ext ent by St oi ci s m.
1 0 4
I n Pl at oni c fashi on, he concei ves
of t he uni ver se as gl obul ar i n f orm, wi t h eart h at t he cent r e (Mos. 1.212), t he
pl anet s r evol vi ng ar ound it, and t he spher e of t he fixed st ars at t he out er l i mi t
(Cher. 2 3 ) .
1 0 5
Li ke Pl at o, he emphas i zes t he oneness of t he cos mos and i t s i nde-
structibility, and al so l i ke Pl at o, he cal l s t he cos mos an i nt el l i gent creat ure and
even appl i es t he wor d 0eos t o it. He agr ees wi t h Pl at o t hat t he uni ver se owes
its exi st ence t o t he goodnes s of t he creat or. Phi l o' s t reat i se, On the Creation
(De Opificio) is a r emar kabl e at t empt t o synt hesi ze Genesi s 1-3 wi t h Pl at o' s
Timaeus. The vi si bl e wor l d i s pat t er ned on t he i deal , perfect wor l d. Phi l o rel at es
t he first ' d a y '
1 0 6
of Genes i s 1 t o t he creat i on of t he K O O J J O S v o n r o s - t he i nt el -
l i gi bl e wor l d, and days t wo t o si x t o t he creat i on of t he corporeal cos mos .
The logos is an i mpor t ant feat ure of Phi l o' s cosmol ogy. It per f or ms a r ange
of funct i ons i n rel at i on t o t he cos mos . It cont ai ns t he wor l d of i deas (De Opi-
ficio 24) , it is t he i nst r ument of cr eat i on (Alleg. 3. 96) and it i s t he pr i nci pl e of
cos mi c cohesi on (Fug. 122) .
1 0 7
In l i ne wi t h St oi ci sm, Phi l o sees t he cos mos as a gr eat ci t y gover ned by a
uni versal l aw (Opific. 3) . He put s hi s own t wi st on t he St oi c t heme, t hough, by
i dent i fyi ng t he uni ver sal l aw wi t h t he l aw of Mos es . Hu ma n bei ngs are meant
t o l i ve i n accor dance wi t h t he l aw of nat ur e (Abr. 61) .
Phi l o exhi bi t s t he hi gh r egar d for t he cos mos t hat wa s t ypi cal of Gr eek
and Hel l eni st i c nat ur al phi l osophy. Hi s Jewi shness comes out , t hough, i n hi s
firm i nsi st ence t hat t he cr eat ed uni ver se is subor di nat e t o its fat her and maker
( despi t e cal l i ng t he cos mos a ' g od' ) and i n hi s pol emi c agai nst ast ral wor s hi p.
Phi l o' s eul ogi zi ng of cr eat i on i s t emper ed by hi s pr ai se of t he cr eat or .
1 0 8
Conclusion
Accor di ng t o t he faithful sayi ng of 1 Ti m. 1.15, ' Chr i st Jesus came i nt o t he wor l d
( el s T O V K O O MO V ) t o save s i nner s ' . Ne w Test ament schol ars r egar d it as vi t al t o
have an accur at e knowl edge of t he wor l d or ' Umwe l t ' i nt o whi ch Chri st came,
but it is al so i mpor t ant t o have an under st andi ng of h ow t he wor l d - under s t ood
in its br oadest sense - wa s concept ual i zed at t he t i me of hi s comi ng.
In t hi s essay, I have done little mor e t han adumbr at e Gr aeco- Roman and
anci ent J ewi s h cosmol ogy, but I t rust t hat t he r evi ew serves t he i mmedi at e
104. See K. Schenck, A Brief Guide to Philo (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 2005), pp.
51-6.
105. Schenck, Brief Guide, pp. 63-4.
106. For Philo, this 'day' is not meant to be understood literally.
107. See further Schenk, Brief Guide, pp. 58-63.
108. Runia, Philo of Alexandria, pp. 458-61.
1. Graeco-Roman and Ancient Jewish Cosmology 27
pur pos e of set t i ng out , at l east i n gener al t er ms , t he cul t ural cont ext of Ne w
Test ament cosmol ogi cal st at ement s. I n t er ms of i nfl uence, it is cl ear t hat t he
Ol d Test ament is t he mos t i mpor t ant backgr ound t o Ne w Test ament cos mol -
ogy. However , as wi l l be seen, t he wr i t er s of t he Ne w Test ament do not si mpl y
i mpar t a wor l d vi ew t hey have i nheri t ed. The comi ng of Chri st i nt o t he cos mos
has for t hem gi ven ne w meani ng t o t he cos mos . I ndeed, it has occas i oned a
r e- const r uct i on and r e- mappi ng of t he cos mos .
2
HE AVE N, EARTH, A N D A N E W GENESI S:
THE OLOGI CAL C O S MO L O G Y I N MATTHE W
J o n a t h a n T. P e n n i n g t o n
Introduction
Over 30 year s ago J ohn Domi ni c Cr os s an wr ot e a little book ent i t l ed The Dark
Interval: Towards a Theology of Story} Ther ei n Cr os s an pr ovi des a s chema
of ways i n whi ch St ory rel at es t o t he wor l d. On one end of t he spect r um a
Myt h est abl i shes t he st ory of t he wor l d. On t he opposi t e end, a Par abl e is used
t o subver t t he wor l d' s story. I n bet ween we have t he cat egor i es of Apol ogue
( whi ch def ends t he wor l d) , Act i on ( descr i bi ng t he wor l d) , and Sat i re ( at t acki ng
t he wor l d) . Thes e heuri st i c cat egor i es are us ed by Cr os s an t o demonst r at e t hat
J es us ' par abl es are wor l d- di sr upt i ng.
In reflecting on t he t eachi ng of Mat t hew, Ri chard Hays adopt s Crossan' s cat ego-
ries and suggest s t hat t he First Gospel lies ' s omewher e at t he myt h/ apol ogue end
of t he s pect r um. . . Mat t hew is bot h creating an ordered, symbol i c worl d, in whi ch
Jesus possesses all authority i n heaven and on earth, and defendi ng it against rival
wor l dvi ews' .
2
Hays is certainly right. The Gospel of Mat t hew is a compl ex and
highly-skilled literary pi ece whi ch has t he grand poi nt of establishing and defend-
i ng a Christocentric uni verse, a worl d vi ew that centres upon t he person of Jesus.
It i s t he pur pos e of t hi s chapt er t o s how h ow Mat t hew' s frequent and nuanced
use of cosmol ogi cal l anguage ser ves t o creat e and est abl i sh a t heol ogi cal wor l d
vi ew, one t hat finds its f oundat i on i n Genesi s and its cons ummat i on i n t he ne w
Genesi s i naugur at ed by Jesus Chri st .
Survey of Some Key Cosmological Terms
It wi l l be hel pful t o begi n wi t h a sur vey of s ome of t he vari ed wor ds and expr es-
si ons i n Mat t hew t hat ma y be cal l ed cosmol ogi cal t er ms. In doi ng so we wi l l
1. J. D. Crossan, The Dark Interval: Towards a Theology of Story (Niles, IL: Argus Com-
munications, 1975). Crossan's book is a period piece from early 1970s Structuralism, which I find
ultimately lacking, yet these categories are helpful in thinking about the different modes through
which the biblical authors witness to their revelation.
2. R. B. Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco,
1996), p. 94.
2. Matthew 29
begi n t o see t he ways i n whi ch ' phys i cal ' cosmol ogi cal t er ms are si mul t ane-
ousl y i nvest ed wi t h met aphor i cal or t heol ogi cal meani ng.
(I) Heaven
Regar di ng cosmol ogi cal l anguage i n Mat t hew, pr i de of pl ace cert ai nl y bel ongs
t o ' heaven' ( oupavoq) . Of cour se, t hi s wor d is no st ranger t o t he pages of t he
J ewi s h Scri pt ures or t he NT. Fr om Gen. 1.1 t o t he end of J ohn' s Revel at i on
we r egul ar l y encount er ref erence t o heaven. The var i ed appear ances of t hi s
i mpor t ant concept can be cat egor i zed i nt o t hr ee pr i mar y us es :
1. oupa vog i n ref erence t o por t i ons of t he vi si bl e creat i on di st i ngui shed
from t he eart h, such as t he firmament or sky above, t he st arry heaven,
and t he at mos pher e wher e t he bi r ds fly.
2 . oupavoc; combi ned wi t h yf\ as a mer i s m t o refer t o t he whol e wor l d,
heaven and eart h.
3 . oupa vog i n ref erence t o t he i nvi si bl e, t r anscendent pl ace( s) above
wher e God dwel l s al ong wi t h hi s angel s and t he righteous dead.
Of t he NT aut hor s, Mat t hew empl oys oupavoq mor e t han any ot her, al one
suppl yi ng us wi t h 30 per cent of al l t he NT us es .
3
Addi t i onal l y, t he rel at ed
t er m oi>pavio<; ( ' heavenl y' ) is f ound ni ne t i mes i n t he NT, seven of whi ch ar e
i n Mat t hew.
4
Anot her i nt erest i ng obser vat i on t o not e i s t hat Mat t hew prefers
pl ural f or ms of oupavoc; t o si ngul ar ones, and he appear s t o us e t hese different
f orms t o cont rast t he di vi ne and heavenl y r eal ms .
5
Cl ear l y t he l anguage and
concept of heaven i s one of Mat t hew' s favouri t es and one t o whi ch he devot ed
careful t hought .
In t er ms of h ow heaven funct i ons i n Mat t hew, we ma y obs er ve t hat t he Fi rst
Gos pel ut i l i zes heaven i n all t hr ee of t he senses descr i bed above. Heaven is fre-
quent l y us ed t o refer t o t he creat ed or der of t he sky and at mospher e. Jesus wi l l
appear on t he cl ouds of heaven, i.e., t he sky ( 24. 30; 26. 64) , t he col our of t he
face of heaven r eveal s t he weat her ( 16. 2- 3) , and bi r ds ar e regul arl y cal l ed t a
iT6T6Lva xoO oupavoO ( 6. 26; 8. 20; 13. 32). Mor e frequently, heaven i s us ed i n
i t s ' s pi r i t ual ' sense. We find t hat God is t he Fat her i n heaven ( 5. 16; 6 . 1 ; 16. 17;
3. Of the 273 occurrences of oupavoc; in the NT, 82 are found in Matthew. This is far more
than any other author, with the second being the book of Revelation with 52 occurrences.
4. In the NT we also find the later adjective eiroupavKx; 12 times in the Pauline corpus and
6 times in Hebrews.
5. For charts and fuller statistics on the use of heaven in Matthew, see J. T. Pennington,
Heaven and Earth in the Gospel of Matthew (NovTSup 126; Leiden: Brill, 2007). Regarding
singular and plural forms of oupavo<;, I argue that Matthew uses singular 'heaven' to refer to
the skies (earthly realm) and in conjunction with 'earth', while he uses plural forms ('heavens')
always to refer to the divine realm, such as the 'kingdom of (the) heaven(s)' and the 'Father in
(the) heaven(s)\ Thus, even at the level of morphology Matthew is communicating a distinction
between the divine realm and the earthly realm.
30 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
18. 19; et al) and hi s t hr one is t her e ( 5. 34; 23. 22) . He a ve n is whe nc e t he Spi ri t
of Go d des cends ( 3. 16) and t he voi ce of God speaks ( 3. 17) . It i s al so t he pl ace of
pr omi s ed r ewar ds ( 5. 12; 6. 20; 19. 21) and t he nor mal r eal m of exi st ence of t he
angel s ( 18. 10; 22. 30; 24. 36; 28. 2) . Over l appi ng wi t h bot h of t hese cat egor i es,
heaven i n Ma t t he w i s ver y f requent l y conj oi ned wi t h r ef er ence t o t he eart h.
Thi s t oo i s a f avour i t e t heme of hi s, especi al l y whe n compar ed t o t he ot her
Gos pel s , whi c h r ar el y ma ke us e of t hi s expr essi on.
6
By far t he mos t c ommon
uses of oupa voq i n Ma t t he w ar e i n t he phr ases f) | 3aoiA. eia t ( 3v oupavcSv
( ki ngdom of heaven) , occur r i ng 32 t i mes , and 6 iTanip 6 kv t ol <; oupavoi c;
( Fat her i n heaven) and t he r el at ed 6 ratfip i)|i(3i> 6 o u p a v i o g ( heavenl y Fat her ) ,
occur r i ng 13 and 7 t i mes , respect i vel y. Thes e t wo expr essi ons compr i s e maj or
t heol ogi cal t hemes i n Ma t t he w ( t he ki ngdom and t he f at her hood of God) and it
is not abl e t hat bot h ar e r egul ar l y connect ed wi t h r ef er ence t o heaven.
(2) Earth
Ear t h (yfj) occur s 43 t i mes i n t he Fi rst Gos pel , 16 of whi c h ar e in combi nat i on
wi t h oupavoc ( 37 per cent ) . As i n t he OT, yx\ in Mat t hew reflects t he wi de
semant i c flexibility of t hi s t er m. It can refer t o specific pe opl e s ' ar eas such as
t he l and of I srael , J udah and Zebul un ( 2. 6, 20; 4. 15; 11. 24), mor e gener al l y t o
geogr aphi c s pace ( 9. 26, 3 1 ; 14. 24) , or t o t he gr ound or soi l ( 10. 29; 13. 5, 8) .
Ear t h can al so refer t o t he phys i cal wor l d ( 5. 18; 12. 40, 42; 27. 45, 51) as wel l as
t o t he i nhabi t ant s and s ys t ems of t he ear t h ( 5. 13; 6. 10; 17. 25), and ma n y t i mes
it i s difficult t o di scer n bet ween t hese t wo.
On e t heol ogi cal l y i mpor t ant exampl e of Mat t hew' s us e of yf\ is whe n t he
wor d is us ed i n connect i on wi t h J es us ' Gent i l e- i ncl usi ve mi ssi on. For exampl e,
after four chapt er s of pr ol ogue and pr epar at i on, Ma t t he w pr esent s t he begi n-
ni ng of J es us ' mi ni st r y as t he fulfilment of I sai ah 8, wi t h its ref erence t o l i ght
comi ng t o t he lands of t he Gent i l es ( 4. 14- 16; cf. Mt . 12. 17- 21) . Addi t i onal l y,
i n t he mi ds t of t he ma n y st agger i ng pr omi s es of t he Beat i t udes, t he i nheri t ance
of t he ear t h/ l and i s pr omi s ed not excl usi vel y t o t hose of J ewi s h descent (cf.
t he par adi gmat i c wor ds of Mt . 3. 8- 9) , but t o t he di sci pl es of Jesus who, l i ke
hi m, are me e k ( 5. 5) . The si gni fi cance of such ' t heol ogi cal ' us es of yf\ becomes
appar ent wh e n one consi der s h o w t he pr omi s e of t he l and i s at t he ver y cor e
of I sr ael ' s sel f-i dent i t y bef or e God. No w t hi s pr omi s e i s ma de t o all t hose wh o
al i gn t hems el ves wi t h Jesus.
As ment i oned above, anot her i mpor t ant us e of yf\ is whe n it is combi ned wi t h
oiypavoQ. Wh e n j oi ned t oget her, t hi s fami l i ar expr essi on ( f ound t hr oughout t he
6. Matthew uses heaven and earth pairs of some kind over 20 times, compared with twice
in Mark and 5 times in Luke. Again, for fuller discussion, see my treatment in Heaven and Earth
in the Gospel of Matthew. There I argue that the heaven and earth theme is a key literary and
theological motif in Matthew, used by him to emphasize the contrast between God and humanity,
all the while looking forward to its eschatological resolution inaugurated by Jesus Christ See
further discussion below.
2. Matthew 31
Scri pt ures from Gen. 1.1 on) gi ves a compr ehens i ve pi ct ur e of t he uni ver se,
depi ct ed as a bi part i t e reality. Such is t he us age i n Mt . 5. 18, 11. 25, and 24. 35.
At t he s ame t i me, t he combi nat i on of ' heaven' and ' ear t h' i s qui t e frequently
us ed by Mat t hew t o cont rast t he t wo r eal ms of real i t y, t hat of t he di vi ne and
t he huma n (e. g. , 5. 34- 35; 6. 10; 6. 19- 20; 18. 18). The si gni fi cance of t hi s wi l l be
t aken u p bel ow.
( 3) World
Mat t hew al so occasi onal l y empl oys t he t er m KOO|iog,
7
whi ch for hi m appar ent l y
ser ves as a s ynonym for eart h, under s t ood i n a br oad sense. It is f ound ei t her i n
i di omat i c phr as es about t he ' f oundat i on of t he wor l d' ( 13. 35; 24. 21; 25. 34) , or
mos t oft en, as a r ef er ence t o t he i nhabi t ed eart h ( 4. 8; 5. 14; 13. 38; 16. 26; 26. 13) .
Ther e is al so one i nst ance of t he t er m o'iKOU|ivr| i n 24. 14. Thi s wor d, whi ch
cl earl y refers t o t he i nhabi t ed wor l d of humani t y, hel ps us see t hat Ma t t he w can
vi ew KOO\XOQ i n t he s ame way, as t he t wo wor ds ar e us ed i nt er changeabl y i n t he
paral l el ver ses of 24. 14 and 26. 13.
8
Regar di ng t he t heol ogi cal si gni fi cance of KOO|io<;, we do not find it as fre-
quent and hi ghl y si gni fi cant a t er m as we do i n t he Gos pel of J ohn or even Paul .
9
Inst ead, Mat t hew pref ers t he ol der manner of speaki ng of t he uni ver se, wi t h
t he expr essi on ' heaven and ear t h' . Never t hel ess, we ma y obser ve one subt l e
wa y i n whi ch Mat t hew does us e K OO| ! 0<; i n a si gni fi cant t heol ogi cal way. I n t he
t empt at i on nar r at i ve (4. 1-11) Mat t hew choos es t o ma ke t he final and cl i mact i c
t empt at i on t o be t he devi l ' s offer of ' al l t he ki ngdoms of t he wor l d and t hei r
gl or y' ( 4. 8) . Thi s is t he final st age bef or e Jesus begi ns hi s mi ni st ry, a mi ni st r y
t hat is s ummar i zed i n 4. 17 as t he pr ocl amat i on t hat t he ' ki ngdom of heaven' is
at hand. The cont rast of Sat an' s offer of t he gl or y and aut hori t y of t he ki ngdoms
of this world wi t h J es us ' offer of t he ki ngdom that comes from heaven is no
acci dent . Onc e agai n, a cont r ast bet ween t hi s huma n wor l d and God' s r eal m i s
posi t ed.
( 4) Hades/Gehenna
Compar ed t o t he ot her Evangel i st s, Mat t hew mor e frequently and mor e descr i p-
t i vel y speaks of a fut ure j udge me nt and hel l .
1 0
Amon g t he vari et y of expr essi ons
7. There are either 8 or 9 occurrences of KOO^iog, depending on the textual variant in 13.35.
8. There is also another Greek word that occasionally is translated as 'world', alcov. This
occurs 8 times in Matthew, 5 of which are in direct combination with ow/ re^eia. One can see
with this intriguing word how its semantic range spans our ideas of 'world' and 'age' while
indicating the eschatological-cosmological expectation of the two ages, this age and the (eschato-
logical) age to come.
9. See inter alia the helpful entry under Koajicx; in Balz and Schneider's Exegetical Diction-
ary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 2:309-12. Also see the essays on
Pauline cosmology in the present volume.
10. See the helpful discussion and analysis in the essay 'The Problem of Gehenna' in D. C.
32
Cosmology and New Testament Theology
used, t he mos t pot ent i al l y ' cos mol ogi cal ' t er ms ar e Hades ( t wi ce) and Gehenna
( 7 t i mes) . Hades is t he Gr eek equi val ent of t he gener al pl ace of t he dead, Sheol .
Its 2 occur r ences i n Mat t hew are st rongl y symbol i c, bot h bei ng us ed as hyper -
bol i c count er poi nt s t o heaven ( 11. 23; 16. 18). Gehenna occur s onl y 12 t i mes i n
t he NT, 7 of whi ch ar e i n Mat t hew. It is cl earl y connect ed wi t h t he not i ons of
fire and j udgement . It i s not ent i rel y cl ear i f Mat t hew' s 6 ref erences t o a pl ace
of out er dar kness and gnas hi ng of t eet h refer t o t he s ame t hi ng as Gehenna or
not , but i t s eems likely.
Whet her such t er ms ar e t rul y cosmol ogi cal i n i nt ent is difficult t o di scern.
That i s, whi l e t hey ar e referred t o as ' pl aces ' , it is not cl ear whet her t hey are
t hought ful l y consi der ed par t of t he st ruct ure of t he physi cal wor l d, or i nst ead
are st ock i mages for t he real i t y of fut ure j udgement . ' Out er dar knes s ' , ' gnas h-
i ng of t eet h' , and Gehenna ar e ' s ymbol i c Jewi sh descr i pt i ons of t he fate of t he
ungodl y' .
1 1
Near l y ever y one of t he ref erences t o Gehenna and t he pl ace of
gnashi ng of t eet h connect t hi s i dea wi t h r agi ng fire. The emphas i s i s not on a
pl ace per se, but on t he exhor t at i onal val ue of t he eschat ol ogi cal j udgement t o
come upon t hose wh o do not al i gn t hemsel ves wi t h t he ki ngdom of heaven. As
Al l i son r emar ks , we ma y not e t hat Jesus never t ur ns Gehenna i nt o a t opi c i n
and of itself; it i s never a subj ect of di scour se nor does Jesus dwel l on it at any
l engt h. ' I t i s al ways r at her a ser vi ceabl e as s umpt i on shar ed b y t he audi ence, a
dr eaded t hi ng i nvoked t o admoni s h or r e buke ' .
1 2
So once agai n we ma y obser ve
t hat t he pur pos e of such cosmol ogi cal t er ms , if Hades and Gehenna can be
cal l ed such, i s t heol ogi cal r at her t han pur el y cosmol ogi cal .
( 5) Assorted Meteorological Terms
For compl et eness, we shoul d al so ment i on a number of wor ds t hat fall under
t he rubri c of cosmol ogi cal expr essi ons such as f|A.io<; ( ' s un' , 5 t i mes) , otXr\vr\
( ' moon' , once) , vetyeXr\ ( ' cl oud' , 4 t i mes) , and ritOTip ( ' s t ar ' , 5 t i mes) . Thes e
t er ms ar e st andar d el ement s i n t he cr eat ed wor l d. For our pur pos es it i s not e-
wor t hy t hat in al most ever y us age, t hese wor ds t ake on gr eat t heol ogi cal si g-
ni fi cance. For exampl e, t he ref erences t o t he moon and cl ouds are empl oyed as
part of st andar d Second Templ e apocal ypt i c l anguage. Her e i n Mat t hew t hey
refer t o t he event s of J es us ' comi ng ( 24. 29- 30; 26. 64) as wel l as t he gl ory cl oud
of t he Transfi gurat i on ( 17. 5) . Al l of t he uses of d o t i p ar e l i kewi se i mbued
wi t h t heol ogi cal si gni fi cance. The r eveal i ng and l eadi ng st ar is ref erenced 4
t i mes i n ch. 2 ( w. 2, 7, 9 , 1 0 ) , l i kel y bei ng used as an under s t ood met aphor for
Allison, Jr's Resurrecting Jesus: The Earliest Christian Tradition and Its Interpreters (New York:
T&T Clark, 2005), pp. 67-8.
11. R. T. France, Matthew (TNTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), p. 156. Cf. F. V. Filson,
77K? Gospel according to St Matthew (2nd edn; London: A&C Black, 1971), p. 100; R. Schnack-
enburg, The Gospel of Matthew (trans. R. Barr; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), p. 83.
12. Allison, 'The Problem', p. 78.
2. Matthew 33
t he angel of t he Lor d.
1 3
The st ars are al so sai d t o fall at t he r et ur n of t he Son
( 24. 29) . Thes e us es of cosmol ogi cal t er ms are i nt ended t o communi cat e t he
gravi t y of t he event s sur r oundi ng Jesus - even t he cos mos i t sel f i s di sr upt ed by
hi s appear i ng. At hi s bi rt h a ne w st ar appear s, di st urbi ng t he set mot i ons of t he
heavens ,
1 4
and at hi s Second Comi ng, t he fabri c of creat i on i t sel f i s t or n (as it
was prol ept i cal l y at J es us ' bapt i s m and r esur r ect i on) .
Summary and Purpose
The pur pos e of t hi s sur vey of t er ms has been t o seek t o under st and h ow Mat t hew
depi ct s t he wor l d or t he cos mos by l ooki ng at key wor ds and phr ases. We ma y
call t hi s hi s Weltbild, or pi ct ure of t he physi cal uni verse. Yet we have begun t o see
t hat for Mat t hew, l i ke t he ot her NT aut hor s, cosmol ogi cal t er ms and expr essi ons
carry mu c h t heol ogi cal freight. The NT aut hor s, unl i ke s ome of t hei r Gr aeco-
Roma n cont empor ar i es, wer e not i nt erest ed in cos mol ogy qua cos mol ogy.
1 5
Inst ead, what ever concept i on of t he physi cal wor l d (Weltbild) exi st ed i n t he
mi nd of Mat t hew, it wa s cert ai nl y not di vor ced from hi s t heol ogi cal const r uct s
r egar di ng God and creat i on, what we ma y cal l hi s Weltanschauung. Mor eover ,
whenever Mat t hew speaks about t he cos mos he i s si mul t aneousl y and pr i mar i l y
maki ng t heol ogi cal cl ai ms. Thus , we ma y obser ve h ow Mat t hew' s Weltbild,
whi ch i s l i kel y at l east i n par t uncons ci ous ,
1 6
i s bot h i nf or med by and ser ves t o
pr omot e hi s Weltanschauung. It i s t hi s ' t heol ogi cal wor l d vi e w' t hat dr i ves hi s
apol oget i c, pol emi cal , and evangel i st i c poi nt s.
A Worlaview Pattern?
Goi ng beyond t hi s sur vey of t er ms , it i s fair t o ask whet her we can obs er ve
any pat t er n t o Mat t hew' s Weltbild and/ or Weltanschauung. A cl ose r eadi ng of
13. Following the argument in Allison's essay, 'The Magi's Angel', in his Studies in Matthew
(Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005), pp. 17-41.
14. See the interesting essay by N. Denzey, 'A New Star on the Horizon: Astral Christologies
and Stellar Debates in Early Christian Discourse', in Scott Noegel, Joel Walker and Brannon
Wheeler (eds.), Prayer, Magic, and the Stars in the Ancient and Late Antique World (University
Park, PA: Perm State University Press, 2003). She suggests that in the early Christian interpreta-
tions of Matthew 2 'Christians saw themselves as triumphant, possessed of a secret conviction
that the star of Bethlehem signaled not just the birth of the Savior but the transformation of the
entire cosmic oikonomia* (p. 221).
15. See the survey of the variety of ancient cosmological theories in Edward Adams' essay in
the present volume.
16. As E. C. Lucas observes, the biblical (and human) tendency is to articulate one's world
view more clearly than one's cosmological view. The two are interrelated, though rarely does a
biblical author clearly spell out the latter. E. C. Lucas, 'Cosmology', in Dictionary of the Old
Testament: Pentateuch (Downers Grove, EL: Intervarsity Press, 2003), p. 131.
34 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
Mat t hew' s cos mol ogi cal l anguage and h o w it funct i ons i n hi s nar r at i ve r eveal s
t hat t her e i s i ndeed a cent ral r ubr i c t hat hol ds t oget her bot h hi s Weltbild and
Weltanschauung: t he t heme of heaven and eart h.
I have ar gued el s ewher e t hat i n t he OT we find an essent i al l y bi par t i t e
pi ct ur e of t he wor l d, bui l t on t he f oundat i onal pat t er n of he a ve n and ear t h.
1 7
Thi s cos mol ogi cal vi e w i n t he OT i s or gani cal l y r el at ed t o and under gi r ds t he
mu c h mor e i mpor t ant mat t er , whi c h i s t he concept ual wor l d vi ew. The s ame
hol ds t r ue for t he Fi r st Gos pel . Thr ough a ser i es of l i t erary devi ces , Ma t t he w
has devel oped an el abor at e he a ve n and ear t h t heme. Thi s i ncl udes a differ-
ence i n si ngul ar and pl ur al us es of o u p a v o g , hi s devel opi ng and expl oi t i ng
t he expr es s i ons ' Fat her i n h e a v e n ' a nd ' ki ngdom of he a ve n' , and hi s r egul ar l y
pai r i ng of he a ve n and ear t h bot h l exi cal l y and concept ual l y. Al l of t hi s s er ves
for Ma t t h e w t o ma k e t he t heol ogi cal poi nt t hat a gr eat cont r ast and t ens i on
exi st s be t we e n heaven and ear t h, be t we e n God and humani t y. By r egul ar l y
emphas i z i ng t he t ens i on be t we e n heaven and ear t h, Ma t t h e w craft s a shar p
di st i nct i on be t we e n t wo r eal ms : one r epr es ent ed by t he ear t hl y wor l d and t he
ot her b y Go d i n heaven. Thi s i s f undament al t o al l of Ma t t he w' s t heol ogi cal
under s t andi ng and it cor r es ponds wi t h hi s bi bl i cal l y- i nf or med per cept i on of
t he wor l d as cons i s t i ng of ' he a ve n and ear t h' . Space does not per mi t me her e
t o pr es ent full ar gument s for t hes e poi nt s , but onl y t o s ugges t t hi s as a cent r al
poi nt of under s t andi ng al ong t he wa y t owar d est abl i shi ng t he ma i n poi nt of
t hi s essay.
Bui l di ng upon t hi s under s t andi ng, t he next quest i on t o ask i s what t he ori gi n
ma y be of Ma t t he w' s heaven and eart h Weltbild and Weltanschauung. The
obvi ous ans wer is t he J ewi s h Scr i pt ur es, and especi al l y t he openi ng book of t he
OT, whi ch est abl i shes t he f oundat i on of Jewi sh and Chr i st i an under st andi ng.
It is not mer el y coi nci dent al t hat Genes i s begi ns wi t h r ef er ences t o heaven and
eart h and t hat Ma t t he w al so us es t hi s l anguage and t heme regul arl y. To t he book
of Genes i s we ma y n ow t urn.
Matthew, Genesis and the New Genesis
Li ke al l t he NT aut hor s, whe n Ma t t he w speaks he exudes Bi bl e. Fr om t he l evel
of basi c vocabul ar y t o t he hei ght of macr ost r uct ur e, Mat t hew consci ousl y and
unconsci ousl y mi mi cs t he J ewi s h Scri pt ures. As Hays r i ght l y obser ves about
all of t he Gos pel s , t he evangel i st s ar e concer ned t o s how t hat J es us ' t eachi ngs,
act i ons, deat h and vi ndi cat i on ' const i t ut ed t he cont i nuat i on and cl i max of t he
anci ent bi bl i cal s t or y' . The Ol d Test ament wa s t he ''generative milieu for t he
gospel s, t he or i gi nal envi r onment i n whi ch t he first Chr i st i an t radi t i ons wer e
17. J. T. Pennington, 'Dualism in Old Testament Cosmology: Weltbild and Weltanschauung*,
SJOT18/2 (2004), 260-77.
2. Matthew 35
concei ved, f or med and nur t ur ed' .
1 8
Thi s i s appar ent for Mat t hew as mu c h as
any of t he Gos pe l s .
1 9
It i s no surpri se, t hen, t o di scer n so ma ny quot es from and al l usi ons t o t he
Ol d Test ament i n t he Fi rst Gos pel . Even mor e t hor oughgoi ng t han t hat of t he
ot her Synopt i c Gos pel s ,
2 0
Mat t hew pr ovi des us wi t h over si xt y expl i ci t and
i mpl i ci t ci t at i ons and quot at i ons .
2 1
I n addi t i on t o t hese, t her e are count l ess ot her
al l usi ons whi ch we can di scer n wi t h var i ous l evel s of conf i dence. Nume r ous
st udi es on Mat t hew' s frequent ' f or mul a quot at i ons ' have been under t aken, i n
addi t i on t o i nvest i gat i ons i nt o t he i nfl uence of specific OT books and mot i f s
on Ma t t he w.
2 2
The i mpor t ance of t he OT for Mat t hew cannot be overst at ed.
Gr a ha m St ant on s ums it up t hi s way: ' The OT i s wove n i nt o t he war p and
woof of t hi s gospel ; t he evangel i st uses Scr i pt ur e t o under l i ne s ome of hi s mos t
pr omi nent and di st i nct i ve t heol ogi cal c onc e r ns ' .
2 3
I n l i ght of t he OT' s genet i c s t amp on Mat t hew andihs cent ral i t y of t he book
of Genes i s i n t he J ewi s h mi nd,
2 4
it i s not sur pr i si ng t o find t hat t he Fi rst Gos pel
18. R. B. Hays, 'The Canonical Matrix of the Gospels', in S. C. Barton (ed.), The Cambridge
Companion to the Gospels (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. 53.
19. Cf. the excellent discussion in R. T. France's, Matthew: Evangelist and Teacher (Downers
Grove EL: Intervarsity Press, 1989), particularly pp. 166ff. France argues that the theme that best
summarizes the whole of Matthew's message is the fulfilment of the OT. While this could be said
for all of the NT books, in Matthew it plays a most dominant role.
20. Compared to the other Synoptics, Matthew includes all of the OT citations from parallel
passages in Mark and Q and expands upon them.
21. Richard Beaton, Isaiahs Christ in Matthews Gospel (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 2002), p. 17, leaning on the works of M. D. Goulder and D. Senior.
22. Examples include K. Stendahl, The School of St Matthew and its Use of the Old Testa-
ment (Lund: Gleerup, 1968); R. Gundry, The Use of the Old Testament in St Matthew's Gospel
with Special Reference to the Messianic Hope (Leiden: Brill, 1967); Beaton, Isaiah's Christ;
M. Knowles, Jeremiah in Matthew's Gospel: The Rejected Prophet Motif in Matthaean Redac-
tion (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993). One may also consult a large number of
articles, such as A. Leske, 'Isaiah and Matthew: The Prophetic Influence in the First Gospel:
A Report on Current Research', in W. H. Bellinger, Jr. and W. R. Farmer (eds.), Jesus and the
Suffering Servant: Isaiah 53 and Christian Origins (Harrisburg PA: Trinity Press, 1998), pp.
152-69. A good recent example of the subtle but powerful way in which the OT serves as a
subtext for Matthew can be found in D. Moffitt, 'Righteous Bloodshed, Matthew's Passion
Narrative, and the Temple's Destruction: Lamentations as a Matthean Intertext', JBL 125.2
(2006), 299-320.
23. G. Stanton, A Gospel for a New People: Studies in Matthew (Louisville: Westminster/John
Knox Press, 1993), p. 346.
24. A number of recent books have dealt with history of interpretation of Genesis, showing
how central and pervasive its influence is. Examples include G. H. van Kooten (ed.), The Creation
of Heaven and Earth: Re-interpretations of Genesis I in the Context of Judaism, Ancient Phi-
losophy, Christianity, and Modern Physics (Leiden: Brill, 2005); J. Frishman and L. van Rompay
(eds.), The Book of Genesis in Jewish and Oriental Christian Interpretation: A Collection of
Essays (Leuven: Peeters, 1997); and several of the essays in A. Wenin (ed.), Studies in the Book
of Genesis: Literature, Redaction and History (Leuven: Peeters, 2001).
36 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
al so s hows cons ci ous dependence upon and i nt eract i on wi t h t he l anguage and
t hemes of Genes i s .
2 5
The ar gument t hat fol l ows wi l l seek t o s how a vari et y of
ways i n whi ch Genes i s ser ves as a cr uci al backdr op for Mat t hew, as wel l as h ow
t hi s Genes i s t heme pr ovi des t he vocabul ar y for t he r esol ut i on of Mat t hew' s
heaven and eart h t ensi on.
Genesis in Matthew
Not a gr eat deal of wor k has been done on Mat t hew' s connect i on wi t h Genesi s.
The suggest i on t hat Mat t hew' s st ruct ural form mi mi cs t he Pent at euch as a
whol e was f amousl y ar gued by Ba c on,
2 6
but has been muc h di sput ed si nce. A
few ot her st udi es have uncover ed t ypol ogi cal connect i ons bet ween Ge n e s i s -
Exodus and Mat t hew.
2 7
But t he mos t obvi ous connect i on bet ween Mat t hew and
Genes i s , and t he one mos t di scussed, is t he st ri ki ng openi ng t o t he Fi rst Gospel :
ptpAxx; yeveoecoQ TrjooO Xp i o t o O u l o u Aa u l 8 ul oO 'APpaap.. The first t wo
wor ds and t hi s openi ng l i ne ar e not acci dent al i n t hei r i nt ert ext ual power . Thi s
openi ng sal vo put s Jesus Chr i st i n t he cont ext of t hr ee of t he mos t i mpor t ant
real i t i es of J ewi s h hi st ory and i dent i t y - t he book of Genes i s , t he ki ng Davi d,
and t he pat r i ar ch Abr a ha m.
2 8
Numer ous comment at or s have obs er ved h ow t he wor ds pt pAog yeveoeiOQ
connect Mat t hew' s nar r at i ve wi t h t he first book of t he Bi bl e .
2 9
Recent l y, War r en
Car t er has si mi l arl y ar gued t hat t he phr as e pt pt ax; yeveoecoQ i n Mt . 1.1 evokes
for t he r eader not j us t t he na me of t he Book of Genes i s i n t he LXX and t he
ref erences i n Gen. 2. 4 and 5. 1, but al so ' t he l arger Genes i s account s of whi ch
25. The NA27 appendix of references lists four quotations and 23 allusions to Genesis, the
latter of which vary in strength.
26. B. W. Bacon, Studies in Matthew (London: Constable, 1930).
27. D. Allison's The New Moses: A Matthean Typology (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1993) pro-
vides a full-length treatment of this theme. Additionally, Michael Goulder uses the Genesis and
Exodus allusions in Matthew 1-5 as an example of justified typological interpretation: M. D.
Goulder, Type and History in Acts (London: SPCK, 1964), pp. 1-13.
28. One may observe how the Gospels of Mark and John similarly connect themselves with
Genesis through their opening words: TSv dpxfi fi"
0
^OYC (Jn 1.1) and 'Apxfj TOO exxtyy^Xiox}
Irpov XpiOToO (Mk 1.1).
29. Persuasive arguments can be found in W. D. Davies and D. C. Allison, A Critical and
Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew (3 vols.; Edinburgh: T&T
Clark, 1998-1999), 1:149-54. See also now Allison's essay, 'Matthew's First Two Words (Matt
1:1)' in his Studies in Matthew, pp. 157-62. In addition to citing many sources who understand
Mt 1.1 as referring to Genesis, Allison points out that Ulrich Luz himself has changed his mind
in this regard between the first and second editions of his commentary. Instead of translating Mat-
thew's opening words as 'Urkunde des Ursprungs' Jesu Christi', Luz now glosses the phrase as
'Buch der "Genesis" Jesu Christi'. Also helpful is R. Heckl's 'Der biblische Begrundungsrahmen
fur die Jungfirauengeburt bei Matthaus: Zur Rezeption von Gen. 5,1-6,4 in Mt 1', ZNW95 (2004),
161-80.
2. Matthew 37
t hey ar e a pa r t ' .
3 0
Leani ng on J ohn Fol ey' s wor k on ' t radi t i onal referent i al i t y'
and h ow a part i al ci t at i on evokes a wel l - known l arger t ext , Car t er suggest s t hat
Mat t hew i nt ent i onal l y al l udes t o Genes i s t o cal l t o mi nd ' t he st ory of God' s
creat i ve and sover ei gn pur pos es for t he whol e wor l d as t he i ni t i al cont ext for
hear i ng t he st ory of J e s us ' .
3 1
Fol l owi ng right after t hese evocat i ve wor ds i n 1.1, Mat t hew' s geneal ogy al so
di spl ays i mpor t ant i nt ert ext ual connect i ons wi t h Genesi s. The seri es of ' begat s '
in 1.2-17 cl ear l y par al l el s t he seri es of m-6in phr as es in Genes i s (l i t eral l y,
' begat t i ngs ' ) . As M. D. J ohns on st at es, plpAxx; yevtoew; is best under s t ood as
a ' refl ect i on of t he t ol edot h f ormul a i n Genesi s, i n ei t her t he Hebr ew or Gr eek
f orm, or b ot h ' .
3 2
Al s o suppor t i ng t hi s connect i on, J ohn Nol l and has ar gued t hat
t he Mat t hean geneal ogy can be classified as an ' annot at ed geneal ogy' , a t ype
of geneal ogy whi ch funct i ons part i cul arl y ' t o set geneal ogi es i nt o t hei r wi der
nar r at i ve cont ext and t o ensur e t hat t he geneal ogi es funct i on as compr es s ed
t el l i ngs of t he hi st ory t hat st ands behi nd t hem' . Mos t i mpor t ant for our pur -
pos es , Nol l and suggest s t hat ' Mat t hew l ear ned hi s craft for t he cr eat i on of an
annot at ed geneal ogy from st udy of t he geneal ogi cal mat er i al s i n Ge ne s i s ' .
3 3
Thus , from t he first wor ds t hr ough t he first sect i on of Mat t hew, t he i mpr i nt of
Genes i s i s clear. Thi s pat t er n cont i nues as Mat t hew pr ogr esses. It ma y be mor e
t han coi nci dent al t hat Mat t hew emphas i zes t hat J es us ' father, na me d Joseph, i s
a recei ver of di vi ne dr eams ( 1. 18- 25; 2. 19- 23) , even as t he mor e f amous Joseph
of Genes i s was . Thi s possi bi l i t y is st r engt hened whe n one obser ves h ow i mpor -
t ant move me nt t o and from Egypt is for Joseph, Ma r y and t he young Jesus.
Mor e cert ai nl y, t he wor k of t he Hol y Spi ri t i n 3. 16 har kens back t o t he Spi ri t ' s
act i vi t y at creat i on. Whi l e t he meani ng of t he Spi ri t ' s descent as a dove is not
ent i rel y cl ear ( 3. 16) , it l i kel y al l udes ei t her t o t he Spi ri t ' s br oodi ng over t he
wat er s i n Gen. 1.2 l i ke a bi r d over i t s nest , or t o t he dove r et ur ni ng t o Noa h' s ar k
( Gen. 8. 8-12), t hus si gnal l i ng t he end of j udgement and t he begi nni ng of t he age
of bl es s i ng.
3 4
Ei t her way, t he connect i on wi t h Genesi s i s made. Si mi l arl y, refer-
ence t o t he bel oved son i n 3. 17 recal l s I saac, t he son Abr a ha m l oves i n Genes i s
22. Ref er ences t o Abr a ha m al so appear several t i mes i n Mat t hew ( 1. 1- 2; 3. 9;
8. 11; 22. 32) as do Sodom ( 10. 15) and ' t he days of Noa h ' ( 24. 37) . Al s o si g-
nificant i s t he t hree-fol d al l usi on t o t he Cai n and Abel st ory ( Gen. 4. 1- 16) i n
30. W. Carter, 'Matthew and the Gentiles: Individual Conversion and/or Systemic Transfor-
mation\ JSNT263 (2004), 259-82 (262). See also Carter's 'Evoking Isaiah: Matthean Soteriol-
ogy and an Intertextual Reading of Isaiah 7-9 in Matthew 1:23 and 4:15-16', JBL 119 (2000),
503-20.
31. Carter, 'Matthew and the Gentiles', p. 262.
32. M. D. Johnson, The Purpose of the Biblical Genealogies (2nd edn; Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1988), p. 149.
33. J. Nolland, 'Genealogical Annotation in Genesis as Background for the Matthean Geneal-
ogy of Jesus', Tyndale Bulletin 47.1 (1996), 115-22(115).
34. D. A. Hagner, Matthew 1-13 (WBC; Dallas: Word, 1993), p. 58.
38 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
Mat t hew ( 5. 21- 25; 18. 21-22; 23. 34- 36) .
3 5
Ther e are al so t he obvi ous quot at i ons
of Genes i s i n Mt . 19. 4-5 and 22. 24. One ma y al so see a pr obabl e al l usi on t o t he
pr e- cr eat i on dar kness of Gen. 1.2 i n Mt . 27. 54, wher e t he whol e eart h/ l and is
cover ed wi t h dar kness at J es us ' deat h.
3 6
We have obser ved t hat t he openi ng wor ds and sect i on of Mat t hew ma ke
a par t i cul ar l y cl ear i nt ert ext ual al l usi on t o Genesi s. It is not i nsi gni fi cant t hat
t he cl osi ng wor ds of Mat t hew l i kewi se ref erence t he s ame. We ma y even say
t hat t he cl i mact i c per i cope of Mat t hew ( 28. 16- 20) ser ves as a capst one for
t hi s i nt ent i onal connect i on wi t h Genes i s .
3 7
Not i ce how Mt . 1.1 hi ghl i ght s t he
r ol e of Abr aham, as does 28. 19 wi t h its ref erence t o t he Gos pel goi ng forth
t o ' al l nat i ons ' . Thi s cl earl y al l udes t o Genes i s 11- 12 and t he i nt r oduct i on of
Abr a ha m as t he one t hr ough wh o m God wi l l bl ess ' al l t he nat i ons of t he ear t h'
( 12. 2- 3) . Thi s connect i on is ver y si gni fi cant becaus e i n Genes i s God' s aut hori t y
as creat or over heaven and eart h ( Genesi s 1-2) is t he basi s for hi s r edempt i ve
pur pos e for all t he nat i ons, wor ked out t hr ough t he per s on of Abr a ha m ( Genesi s
12 and beyond) . Mat t hew' s st ruct ure s hows sensi t i vi t y t o t hi s r edempt i ve nar-
rat i ve, wi t h its st r ong t heme of heaven and eart h t hr oughout , cul mi nat i ng i n
J es us ' own aut hori t y over heaven and eart h ( God' s pr er ogat i ve i n Gen. 1.1) with
the result that hi s di sci pl es ma y go and br i ng t he bl essi ngs of t he gospel t o all
nat i ons - t he pur pos e and zeni t h of t he pr ocess begun i n Genes i s 1-12.
It appear s t hat Mat t hew uses 28. 16- 20 so t hat we mi ght vi ew hi s Gos pel
account as an appr opr i at e bookend mat chi ng t he first book of t he Scri pt ures.
One of t he key poi nt er s t o t hi s i s t hat t he final five wor ds of Mat t hew (eax; ifj<;
owxektiaQ T O O al ( 3vog, ' t o t he end of t he a ge ' ) f or m an inclusio wi t h bot h
Mt . 1.1 and Gen. 1.1, spanni ng from t he creat i on t o t he end.
Addi t i onal l y, beyond t he l evel of t hese quot at i ons and al l usi ons t o Genes i s ,
we ma y al so obs er ve t hat t he pr edomi nant t heme of heaven and eart h i n
Mat t hew, suggest ed above, finds i t s fount i n t he l anguage of Genesi s. Havi ng
35. The words 'the blood of Abel the just' in Mt. 23.35 make this connection explicit. The
other two passages in Matthew are thick with allusions to Gen. 4.1 -16 as Dale Allison ably points
out in his essay, 'Murder and Anger, Cairfand Abel (Matt. 5:21-25)', in Studies in Matthew, pp.
65-78.
36. W. D. Davies, The Setting of the Sermon on the Mount (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1966), p. 84. See also Allison's essay 'Darkness at Noon', in his Studies in Matthew, pp.
83 ^.
37. This important text in Matthew likely serves several intertextual purposes. In addition
to connecting to Genesis, it is widely recognized that Mt. 28.16-20 also refers to Dan. 7.13.
Additionally, a good argument can also be made for a connection between Mt. 28.16-20 and
2 Chron. 36.23 (canonically, the last verse of the Hebrew Bible): 'Thus says Cyrus king of Persia,
"The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged
me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people,
may the LORD his God be with him. Let him go up"'. Cf. B. J. Malina, 'The Literary Structure
and Form of Mt. 28:16-20', NTS 17 (1970), 87-103; Schnackenburg, Matthew, p. 297.
2. Matthew 39
seen h o w i mpor t ant Genes i s i s for Mat t hew, it i s not difficult n o w t o r ecogni ze
t hat Mat t hew' s cent ral heaven and eart h t heme has its pr i mar y sour ce i n t he
openi ng wor ds of t he J ewi s h Scri pt ures. Thus , not onl y at t he l evel of ci t at i on
and al l usi on, but al so on t he pl ane of l anguage and t heme - her e t he expr essi on
' heaven and ear t h' - Mat t hew is expr essi ng hi s i ndebt edness t o Genesi s.
The Function of Genesis in Matthew
Ha vi ng es t abl i s hed t he f r equency and dept h of Ma t t he w' s dependence on
Genes i s , we ma y ask what si gni fi cance t hi s ma y have. Wha t i s t he f unct i on
of Genes i s i n Mat t hew? We have s een above t hat Car t er suggest ed t hat t he
openi ng wor ds of Mat t hew ser ve t o evoke t he whol e st ory of Genes i s and
God' s r edempt i ve act s. Thi s accor ds wi t h t he ma n y funct i ons of i nt ert ext ual i t y
i n Scri pt ure. Al ong si mi l ar l i nes, r ef er ence t o t he Genesi s DH^ I D s chema i n
t he Mat t hean geneal ogy s hows Jesus t o be t he n e w and final mi l est one i n t hi s
f oundat i onal syst em. Thi s, combi ned wi t h ma ny ot her t ypol ogi cal connect i ons
in t he openi ng chapt ers of Mat t hew, serves t o s how t he cont i nui t y of Mat t hew' s
st ory and t he event s of Jesus wi t h t he wor k of t he God of Israel .
Even mor e specifically, Mat t hew' s frequent us e of Genesi s, i ncl udi ng t he
heaven and eart h t heme, is a key t hat Mat t hew want s us t o under st and t he wor k
of Jesus Chr i st as const i t ut i ng a compl ement t o t he Genesi s story, i ndeed a ne w
creat i on. Thoma s Hi eke ma ke s t he fasci nat i ng ar gument t hat t he first four wor ds
of Mt . 1.1 ar e an i nt ended change of and t wi st upon t he LXX versi on of Gen. 2. 4
and 5. 1. Thos e t wo t ext s bot h us e pi pAoq yeveaeax; f ol l owed by t he geni t i ve
phr as es o u p a v o u Kal yf\Q ( 2. 4) and dv0pcoiTG)v ( 5. 1) . Significantly, Ma t t he w
subst i t ut es t hes e geni t i ve phr as es wi t h hi s own I npoO Xpi GToO. Hi eke con-
cl udes t hat it i s ver y easy t o see t hat t hi s s hows t hat Jesus is t o be under s t ood as
si gni fyi ng an eschat ol ogi cal n e w creat i on, as t he cons ummat i on of bot h heaven
and eart h and humani t y.
3 8
Si mi l arl y, i n comment i ng on t he openi ng wor ds ,
Davi es and Al l i son ar gue t hat Mat t hew empl oys t he wor ds ptpAoc; yeveoeux;
' i n or der t o dr aw a paral l el bet ween one begi nni ng and anot her begi nni ng,
bet ween t he cr eat i on of t he cos mos and Ad a m and Eve on t he one hand and
t he n e w cr eat i on br ought by t he Mes s i ah on t he ot he r ' .
3 9
They cont i nue, ' Thi s
means , accor di ng t o t he pr i nci pl e t hat t he end wi l l be l i ke t he begi nni ng, t hat t he
gospel concer ns eschat ol ogy; it r ecount s t he fulfillment of t he hope for a " ne w
c r e a t i on" ' .
4 0
Or, t o us e t he wor ds of J ohn Nol l and, i f Mt . 1.1 wer e meant as a
38. T. Hieke, 'Biblos Geneseos: Mt 1,1 vom Buch Genesis her Gelesen', in J.-M. Auwers and
H. J. De Jonge (eds.), The Biblical Canons (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2003), pp. 646-7;
see also the chart on p. 644.
39. Davies and Allison, Matthew, 1:150. See also Allison, 'Matthew's First Two Words', pp.
157-62.
40. Davies and Allison, Matthew, 1:153.
40 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
ref erence t o t he ' book of Genes i s ' , t hen Mat t hew woul d be usi ng t hi s l anguage
' t o i mpl y t hat t el l i ng t he st ory of Jesus i s l i ke pr ovi di ng a n e w Genes i s account ,
t hat i s, si nce cr eat i on i s t he or i gi n t o whi ch Genes i s t r aces t hi ngs, t hat a n e w
( eschat ol ogi cal ) creat i on comes i nt o bei ng wi t h J e s us ' .
4 1
Ther ef or e, in l i ght of t he pr evi ous di scussi on, t her e i s good r eason t o
bel i eve t hat Mat t hew i nt ent i onal l y i nt er wove hi s Gos pel wi t h t he l anguage and
i mages of Genes i s t o s how t hat t he cons ummat i on of God' s r edempt i ve wor k
has occur r ed i n Jesus Chri st . I n addi t i on t o assor t ed uses of Genes i s overal l ,
he us es t he fami l i ar and f oundat i onal l anguage of heaven and eart h f ound i n
Gen. 1.1 and beyond t o connect hi s own Gos pel wi t h t he l arger nar r at i ve of
Genesi s, t her eby pr ocl ai mi ng t hat Jesus i s t he One i n wh o m God' s f oundat i onal
pur poses are cons ummat ed. So, we ma y obser ve t hat t he ul t i mat e funct i on of
Mat t hew' s cos mol ogi cal l anguage ( especi al l y but not onl y ' heaven and ear t h' )
is t he t heol ogi cal pur pos e of s howi ng t he cont i nui t y bet ween t he God of t he Ol d
Test ament and t he Mes s i ah Jesus.
The Meaning of Matthew s Palingenesia
Ther e i s yet one cruci al ref erence t o Genes i s t hat we have not ment i oned. It is
t he of t - over l ooked wor d raAiYYeveota i n 19. 28. The var i et y of dat a pr esent ed
above for t he si gni fi cance of Genes i s i n Mat t hew pr ovi des an i mpor t ant back-
dr op for fully under st andi ng t hi s wor d and its funct i on i n Mat t hew.
HuXv(YVoicL occur s onl y t wo t i mes i n t he NT, her e i n Mat t hew as wel l as
in Tit. 3. 5. I n t he l at t er case it i s t ypi cal l y t ransl at ed wi t h t he wor d ' r egener a-
t i on' . Wi t h l anguage t hat appr oaches a cr eedal formul at i on, Tit. 3. 4-7 speaks of
t he savi ng wor k of God t hr ough t he agency of t he Hol y Spi ri t . Verse 5 descr i bes
t hi s as a savi ng 5ux Axnrrpou ^aXiyy^v^oioQ KOCI ai / aKai vcooeax; ( ' t hr ough t he
was hi ng of r egener at i on and r enewal ' ) . For our pur pos es we ma y not e t hat t he
c ommon t hr ead bet ween t hese t wo nouns ( i Todi YY^^ot a and ( f owcai vooi c; ) i s
t hat of ' agai n- nes s ' . Ther e i s a st r ong affi rmat i on her e t hat t he new, l i fe-gi vi ng
wor k of God is one of rest orat i on, resul t i ng i n et ernal life for humani t y (3. 7)
even as God' s ori gi nal wor k br eat hed life i nt o ma n and woma n.
YUxXiyy^ayjOL does not occur i n t he LXX, but t he NT' s us age does not come
t o us i n a vacuum. The NT' s rel at i ve i nf requency of us age does not reflect t hat
of Gr eek l i t erat ure pr ecedi ng and cont empor ar y wi t h Mat t hew, wher e we do
find ma ny uses of t he wor d. A number of schol ars have expl or ed t hi s i ssue.
For exampl e, F. W. Bur net t di d an ext ensi ve st udy of t he ma n y occur r ences
41. It must be stated that this is not Nolland's position, though ironically, it is one of the best
summaries of what I am arguing here. This quote comes from Nolland's essay, 'What Kind of
Genesis Do We Have in Matt. 1.1?', NTS 42 (1996), p. 469, n. 25, in which he rejects the view
that Matthew's opening words are functioning in this way, though his arguments to this end are
less than convincing.
2. Matthew 41
of i Ta A. i YY
6 l / 0
t
a
i n Phi l o and found t hat t he wor d is a cent ral i dea i n Phi l o' s
wr i t i ngs and basi cal l y me a ns t he rebi rt h of t he vi rt uous soul i nt o a noncor -
por eal exi s t ence,
4 2
t hough it can al so refer t o t he n e w wor l d after t he Fl ood
(Vit. Mos. 2. 65; cf. 1 Clem, 9. 4). JlaXiyy^v^oxxL i s us ed i n ot her Gr eek l i t era-
t ure i n a vari et y of ways . It i s per haps mos t i mpor t ant i n St oi c wr i t i ngs, wher e
TTodiYYeveoia wa s oft en us ed t o refer t o t he per i odi c di ssol ut i on and r enewal
of t he uni ver se i n fiery conf l agr at i on.
4 3
One i nt erest i ng us e is f ound i n J os ephus
wher e t he wor d i s us ed t o refer t o I sr ael ' s r e- est abl i shment after t he Exi l e {Ant.
11. 66)
In t er ms of t he wor d' s meani ng i n Mt . 19. 28, we ma y first obser ve t hat it is
defi ned, at l east i n part , i n t he f ol l owi ng phr as e as ' whe n t he Son of Ma n sits
upon hi s gl or i ous t hr one' , a ref erence i t sel f t o Dan. 7. 9-27 whi ch wi l l occur
agai n i n Mt . 25. 31 and 26. 64.
4 4
Thi s t i me is al so descr i bed as whe n t he di sci pl es
' j udge t he t wel ve t ri bes of I sr ael ' , whi ch l i kel y refers t o t he eschat ol ogi cal age
wh e n t he di sci pl es wi l l exer ci se s ome t ype of aut hori t y i n God' s ki ngdom on
t he eart h.
Bur net t , ment i oned above, wr ot e an art i cl e exami ni ng t hi s wor d i n 19. 28
and suggest ed t hat it refers t o t he rebi rt h of t he wor l d or t he rebi rt h of t he i ndi -
vi dual , and t hat t hese oft en ent ai l one anot her. Thus , ' i n its Mat t hean cont ext
mkiyyevtoia coul d have over t ones of bot h t he ne w wor l d and life i n t he ne w
wor l d ( "r esur r ect i on") ' . I n par al l el wi t h Mk 10. 30 it i s basi cal l y s ynonymous
wi t h ' t he end of t he a ge ' or ' t he age t o c o me ' .
4 5
J. Duncan M. Derret t r es ponded
and ar gued t hat i nst ead t he wor d means onl y t he si ngl e event of ' t he Resur -
r ect i on' . He cl ai ms i n s uppor t of hi s vi ew ma n y heavywei ght s i n t he hi st or y
of i nt er pr et at i on, i ncl udi ng Augus t i ne, Muns t er , Beza, Capel l us and ( t hough
he is s omewhat ambi guous ) J er ome. However , Der r et t ' s vi ew is t oo nar r ow in
l i mi t i ng it t o t he t i me of t he resurrect i on. As a resul t , many, i ncl udi ng Davi es
and Al l i son, rej ect Der r et t ' s r eadi ng of t he wor d as t oo punct i l i ar; bet t er is
t he under st andi ng t hat t he aakiyyeveout refers t o a t i me per i od, ' t he age t o
c ome ' . The utikiyy^v^oia i s ' t he wor l d i n whi ch Chri st r ei gns, a wor l d wi t h
a r edeemed I s r ael ' .
4 6
Davi d Si m t akes up t he di scussi on once mor e i n hi s 1993
42. F. W. Burnett, 'Philo on Immortality: A Thematic Study of Philo's Concept of iraA.iy-
yeveoLa', CBQ 46 (1984), 447-70. Burnett even states that when one speaks of TrcdiYY^veoia
in Philo one is speaking simultaneously 'of what is perhaps the organizing centre of his thought,
viz., the migration of the soul towards immortality' (p. 447).
43. E.g., Marcus Aurelius 11.1.3. See also Diogenes Laertius 7.134; Cicero Nat. Deorum
2.118. See discussion in Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew (NIGTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,
2005), p. 799.
44. In addition to Daniel 7, connection can also be found with Deut. 17.18 and 1 Enoch 62.5;
69.29 (and cf. Rev. 3.21).
45. F. W. Burnett, 'IIaA.iYYveo-ia in Matt. 19:28: A Window on the Matthean Community?',
JSNT17 (1983), 60-72 (65).
46. Davies and Allison, Matthew, 3:57-8. This is also the view of BDAG. Quite similar is the
42 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
JSNT ar t i cl e.
4 7
He r evi ews t he ar gument t hat t he wor d me a ns t he age t o come
and onl y t hat , wi t h no connot at i on of cos mi c dest ruct i on and re- creat i on. Thi s
is an i ssue becaus e of t he pot ent i al i nfl uence t hat St oi ci sm, wi t h i t s bel i ef i n t he
r egul ar dest r uct i on and r e- cr eat i on of t he uni ver se, had on J ewi s h and Chr i s-
t i an cosmol ogy. Ma n y have been ri ght l y concer ned t o s how t he di fferences
bet ween a St oi c concept i on of t he wor l d and t hat of Second Templ e J ewi s h
eschat ol ogy, namel y t hat ( unl i ke t he St oi c vi ew) t he cycl e of dest r uct i on and
r e- cr eat i on i s not per pet ual i n t he J ewi s h wor l d vi ew. But Si m s hows t hat a
vi ew of i T o d i YY
l / e o
t
a
t hat does not t ake i nt o account t he real i t y of cos mi c
dest r uct i on and r e- cr eat i on is insufficient. Thi s is becaus e t he rej ect i on of t he
des t r uct i on- r ecr eat i on vi ew i s us ual l y ma de by ar gui ng t hat Ma t t he w never
s peaks of t he end of t he wor l d or cos mos . But as Si m poi nt s out , Ma t t he w
does i ndeed do so i n 5. 18 and 24. 35. Ther ef or e, Si m ar gues t hat (i n l i ne wi t h
t he Second Templ e apocal ypt i c l i t erat ure) T T a Xt Y Y ^
0
^ ' expr es s es t he i dea,
c ommon i n apocal ypt i c ci rcl es, of cos mi c dest ruct i on and r egener at i on whi ch
t he ne w age wi l l b r i n g ' .
4 8
Thus , i n 19. 28 t he wor d means ' not j us t t he ne w age
but t he t ot al r e- cr eat i on of t he cos mos whi ch accompani es t he ne w a ge ' . Si m
poi nt s out t hat whi l e Mat t hew does descr i be t hi s r egener at i on wi t h a wor d bor-
r owed from St oi ci sm, he does not appear t o share t he St oi c vi ew.
4 9
Thus , whi l e
Mat t hew, l i ke ot her Second Templ e wr i t er s, does not bel i eve i n t he St oi c vi ew
of a per pet ual cycl e of dest r uct i on- r e- cr eat i on, hi s bor r owi ng of itakiyyeveoia
is appr opr i at e i n t hat it envi sages a real dest ruct i on and re- creat i on.
Wr i t i ng mu c h earl i er, Geer har dus Vos comes t o si mi l ar concl us i ons .
5 0
He
di scusses t he bi bl i cal eschat ol ogi cal pr i nci pl e t hat t he end cor r esponds t o t he
begi nni ng, but not es t hat unl i ke ot her Anci ent Near East er n bel i efs such as St o-
i ci sm, i n t he bi bl i cal vi ew t her e wi l l not be a repet i t i on of t he s ame pr ocess, but
' a rest orat i on of t he pr i meval ha r mony on a hi gher pl ane s uch as pr ecl udes all
further di st ur bance' . Vos sees Mat t hew 19. 28 as a reference t o t hi s ne w heavens
and n e w eart h t hat ' mar ks t he wor l d- r enewi ng as t he r enewal of an abnor mal
st at e of t hi ngs ' . Vos is careful t o poi nt out t hat t hi s is i ndeed a r enewal , not a
creat i on de novo, t her eby agai n maki ng a di st i nct i on bet ween t he St oi c and
bi bl i cal vi e ws .
5 1
Thi s mode r n schol ar l y di scussi on of TtaXiyyeveoia i s benefi ci al . But what
has not been sufficiently poi nt ed out is t hat i n Mat t hew t hi s wor d comes t o us
view of Gundry: The word '... probably refers to Israel's renewal when God fully establishes his
kingdom on earth'. Gundry, Matthew, p. 392.
47. D. C. Sim, 'The Meaning of TiaXiyyeveoia in Matthew 19.28', JSNT 50 (1993), 3-12.
48. Sim, 'The Meaning', p. 5.
49. Sim, 'The Meaning', p. 11.
50. Geerhardus Vos, ISBE, s.v. 'Heavens, New (and Earth, New)', 2:1353-4.
51. In this discussion Vos also addresses what may appear to be the Stoic view in 2 Pet 3.6-13.
He argues that in that text the language of destruction by fire is actually renewal language, not that
of destruction in light of analogue of the Flood which also 'destroyed' the world through water.
2. Matthew 43
not al one but as one of t he ma ny si gnpost s poi nt i ng us back t o Genes i s and t he
t heol ogi cal poi nt he is maki ng vi a t hi s i nt ert ext ual mo v e .
5 2
That i s, I affirm t hat
t he referent or denotation of mkiyyeveoia for Mat t hew i s t he eschat ol ogi cal
age t o come, depi ct ed as t hat of a r enewed creat i on. But j us t as i mport ant l y,
we mus t r ecogni ze t he gr eat er connotation t hat we as r eader s of Ma t t he w are
i nt ended t o r ecei ve: t hat ref erence t o a ' genesi s a g a i n '
5 3
s houl d t r i gger i n our
mi nds t he pl et hor a of ot her ways t hat Mat t hew has been us i ng Genes i s from hi s
openi ng wor ds on. An d agai n, t he poi nt of t hi s br oad t hemat i c and l i ngui st i c
over l ap bet ween Genes i s and Mat t hew is t o ar gue t hat i n Jesus Chr i st we find
t he cons ummat i on of God' s wor k t hat began wi t h hi s creat i on. The s ame is
occur r i ng her e i n 19. 28. In t he eschat ol ogi cal ne w cr eat i on t hose wh o wi l l sit
as j udgi ng aut hori t i es ar e none ot her t han J es us ' own chos en di sci pl es. Thi s i s
cl earl y a cl ai m t hat goes far beyond a mer e pr ophet i c eschat ol ogi cal vi si on!
Thi s is one st at ement a mong ma ny i n t he Fi rst Gos pel t hat r eveal s t hat Mat -
t hew' s Weltbild and Weltanschauung are t hor oughl y Chr i st ocent r i c.
Conclusion
Our earl i er di scussi on of wor l d vi ew wi l l br i ng t o mi nd for ma n y t he par a-
di gmat i c wor k of Pet er Ber ger and Thoma s Luckmann, and t he i dea of one' s
' s ymbol i c uni ver s e' . Ber ger and Luc kma nn defi ne s ymbol i c uni ver s es as
' bodi es of t heoret i cal t radi t i on t hat i nt egrat e different pr ovi nces of meani ng
and encompas s t he i nst i t ut i onal or der i n a s ymbol i c t ot al i t y' .
5 4
Mor e si mpl y,
we ma y descr i be a s ymbol i c uni ver se as t he i nt egr at ed s ys t em of bel i ef s, val ues
and s ymbol s whi ch are us ed b y gr oups t o l egi t i mat e t hei r under s t andi ng of t he
wor l d. The s ymbol i c uni ver se is under st andabl y i mpor t ant for r el i gi ous gr oups ,
especi al l y ones whi ch have br oken away from anot her, ' mot he r ' gr oup. Ber ger
52. It should be noted that one of the few people to explicitly make the connection between
Genesis 1 and Mt. 19.28 is John Nolland. Though, as with the discussion above (see n. 41),
Nolland sees how some could make this connection only to reject it himself (Nolland, 'What
Kind of Genesis...?', p. 465). However, Nolland's brief arguments against the Genesis-Matthew
connection here prove wanting. He does not seemingly want to allow Matthew to make such a
play on words, and more perplexing, he writes that 'TrodiYY^cua has clearly been chosen for
its wider Hellenistic associations and not for any capacity to evoke the biblical creation tradition'.
Herein lies a false dichotomy. Can we say that a Jew, writing in Greek from within the Hellenis-
tic world, has chosen a word with Greek connotations rather than for its biblical connections?
Rather, it seems that the biblical authors chose Hellenistic Greek words, often aware that these
words had different Hellenistic connotations, yet they imbued them with their own meaning from
their own biblical world view.
53. I am quite aware of the many dangers of dissecting a word into its etymological parts to
discern its meaning. However, in this instance, especially in light of the many Genesis references
in Matthew, this translation has much to commend itself.
54. P. L. Berger and T. Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Soci-
ology of Knowledge (London: Penguin, 1966; repr. 1991), p. 113.
44 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
has cal l ed t hi s a ' s acr ed c a nopy' .
5 5
The l ast quart er- cent ury has seen muc h wor k
done i n appl yi ng t hi s vi ew t o t he st udy of Mat t hew.
5 6
Thi s appr oach i s ver y per t i nent t o our di scussi on of Mat t hew' s cosmol ogy. I
have ar gued above t hat a vari et y of cosmol ogi cal t er ms can be f ound i n Mat t hew
and t hat i n ever y case t hi s l anguage ul t i mat el y has a st r ongl y t heol ogi cal poi nt .
Cent ral t o Mat t hew' s cosmol ogi cal l anguage i s t he t heme of heaven and eart h.
Mat t hew r egul ar l y uses t hi s t heme as but one of t he ma ny wa ys i n whi ch he i s
pr esent i ng hi s Gos pel as a bookend t o Genesi s. I n a st ri ki ng way, Mat t hew' s
connect i on wi t h Genesi s ser ves as t he f oundat i on for bot h hi s Weltbild and
Weltanschauung. By us i ng Genes i s as a foundat i onal subt ext , Mat t hew i s abl e
t o pr ovi de a compr ehens i ve symbol i c uni ver se whi l e al so i ndi cat i ng what i s
l i kel y hi s under st andi ng of t he physi cal wor l d, t hus agai n s howi ng t he i nevi -
t abl e over l ap of t hese t wo real i t i es.
As Hays has obser ved, t he Fi rst Gos pel funct i ons ver y mu c h l i ke a mythos,
a wor l d- cr eat i ng, f oundat i onal st ory of reality. I n t hi s wa y Mat t hew cl earl y
mi mi cs Genesi s. The st ori es of Genesi s, especi al l y chs 1- 11, pr ovi de t he fun-
dament al under st andi ng of t he wor l d ( bot h Weltbild and Weltanschauung). For
Mat t hew, t hi s i s accept ed and under s t ood anew i n l i ght of t he per son of Jesus.
For Mat t hew, t he ent i ret y of creat i on and God' s deal i ngs wi t h hi s creat i on are
cons ummat ed i n t he God- man wh o t ook on creat ed flesh, J es us t he Chri st . Wi t h
Genesi s as t he f oundat i onal t est i mony t o t he wor l d vi ew of Mat t hew t he Jew,
he n o w under st ands t hi s real i t y t o find i t s apex and goal i n t he i ncar nat i on of
4
God wi t h u s ' ( 1. 23; cf. 28. 20) . Thus , Mat t hew i s pr ovi di ng for hi s r eader s a
mythos t hat est abl i shes t he ne w and final wor l d vi ew, one t hat cor r esponds wi t h
Genesi s even whi l e we awai t t he ' genes i s - agai n' i naugur at ed by Jesus.
55. P. L. Berger, The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion (New
York: Anchor Books, 1990). See also the discussion in P. Esler, The First Christians in their
Social Worlds: Social-Scientific Approaches to New Testament Interpretation (London: Rout-
ledge, 1994), pp. g-10.
56. Examples include D. L. Balch (ed.), Social History of the Matthean Community (Minne-
apolis: Fortress, 1991); J. A. Overman, Matthews Gospel and Formative Judaism (Minneapolis:
Fortress, 1990); idem, Church and Community in Crisis: The Gospel According to Matthew
(Valley Forge: Trinity, 1996); A. J. Saldarini, Matthews Christian-Jewish Community (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1994).
3
TE ARI NG T HE HE AVE NS A N D S HAKI NG T HE HEAVENLI ES :
MARK ' S C O S MO L O G Y I N I TS APOCALYPTI C C ON TE XT
Mi c h a e l F. Bi r d
Carl Sagan' s book, The Demon Haunted World, i s a mi l i t ant l y at hei st i c at t empt
t o di sl odge a t hei st i c wor l d vi ew wi t h a pur el y mat eri al i st i c one.
1
The aut hor of
t he Second Gos pel , wh o m I fol l ow t radi t i on i n nami ng Mar k, woul d be mos t
unl i kel y t o subscr i be t o Sagan' s atheological per spect i ve of t he cos mos . For
Mar k, hi s wor l d vi ew i s consi st ent l y t heocent ri c and i ndebt ed t o t he J ewi s h
Weltanschauungwith a Cr eat or of ' h e a v e n and ear t h' (e. g. Gen. 14. 19, 22; Exod.
20. 11) wh o has al so creat ed/ el ect ed hi s own peopl e, Israel ( Deut . 4. 32- 33; Isa.
4 3 . 1 ; 44. 1- 2) .
2
But one poi nt wher e Ma r k woul d agr ee wi t h Sagan, or Sagan' s
book t i t l e at l east , i s t hat t hi s wor l d i s i ndeed demon haunt ed. In a ver y real
sense, humans ar e oppr essed by mal evol ent power s (t he pol i t i cal and spi ri t ual
not al ways neat l y di st i ngui shed, e. g. Mk 5. 1-14), it i s full of sufferi ng, and
r eeks of deat h. Ma r k' s ' wor l d' i s t rul y macabr e, dar k and t ragi c - but Ma r k
t hi nks t hi s ' wor l d' i s changi ng. Accor di ng t o Mar k, God has bot h a Son and a
Ki ngdom whi ch have br oken i nt o t hi s demon haunt ed wor l d and ar e effect i ng
its t r ansf or mat i on, i t s r edempt i on and finally i t s re- creat i on. As Mi chael Pat el l a
wr i t es: ' The passi on, deat h, and resurrect i on ar e J es us ' t r i umph over Sat an i n
t he cos mi c bat t l e. Thi s t r i umph s weeps i n t he eschat on. Cr eat i on i s s aved and
r euni t ed wi t h Go d ' .
3
Thi s i s t he ful crum of Ma r k' s st ory of Jesus, t hi s i s t he
hope t hat he wi s hes t o i mpar t t o hi s audi ences, t hi s i s why Ma r k cal l ed hi s
wor k euayyEAi ov ( ' gos pel ' ) i n 1.1. Thus , Ma r k' s Gospel pr es uppos es a cer t ai n
cos mol ogy i n t hat t he sal vat i on and r edempt i on achi eved by t he Mar can Jesus
is i ndel i bl y bound up wi t h a cert ai n under st andi ng of t he wor l d. I n l i ght of t hi s,
t he ai m of t hi s st udy i s t o descr i be el ement s of Ma r k' s cosmol ogi cal s cheme
1. C. Sagan, The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (New York:
Random House, 1995).
2. Cf. J. T. Pennington, 'Dualism in Old Testament Cosmology: Weltbild and Weltanschau-
ung', Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament 18 (2004), 260-77; S. Grindheim, The Crux of
Election (WUNT 2.202; Tubingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 2005), pp. 8-9.
3. M. Patella, The Lord of the Cosmos: Mithras, Paul, and the Gospel of Mark (New York:
T&T Clark, 2006), p. 59.
46 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
and t o identify h ow it i mpact s t he t heol ogi cal st ruct ures embedded wi t hi n hi s
narrat i ve.
Mark as Apocalyptic Eschatology
Ma r k expr esses a wor l d vi ew whi ch, i n its basi c out l ook, can be cat egor i zed
as apocal ypt i c eschat ol ogy. Cer t ai n wr i t i ngs can be descr i bed as ' apocal ypt i c
l i t erat ure' but Ma r k is not ' apocal ypt i c' if by t hat one means t he t ext ' s per s pec-
t i ve and wor l d vi ew; rat her, Ma r k exhi bi t s a f orm of apocal ypt i c eschat ol ogy.
By ' apocal ypt i c es chat ol ogy' I me a n t hat t he concept ual f r amewor k of Mar k' s
Gos pel bear s si gni fi cant correl at i on t o t he feat ures of a cert ai n eschat ol ogy
char act er i zed by pes s i mi s m, dual i sm, det er mi ni sm, mes s i ani s m and a hope for
a di vi ne del i ver ance. Thi s shoul d be cont r ast ed wi t h apocalypticism, whi ch is
a soci al and r el i gi ous phe nome non f ound among gr oups l i ke Qumr a n and t he
Br anch Davi di ans . I t hi nk it possi bl e t hat Ma r k' s Gos pel i s or i ent ed t owar ds t he
apocal ypt i ci sm t hat char act er i zed cer t ai n quar t er s of t he earl y J es us movement ,
but it is goi ng beyond t he evi dence t o suggest t hat Ma r k wa s wr i t t en for an
apocal ypt i c communi t y.
4
We mus t al so di st i ngui sh Mar k from an apocalypse,
whi ch is a l i t erary genr e t hat gi ves wr i t t en expr essi on t o apocal ypt i c eschat ol -
ogy t hr ough a vari et y of literary, rhet ori cal , nar r at i ve and t heol ogi cal devi ces
f ocusi ng on t he di scl osure of di vi ne mys t er i es .
5
The Gos pel of Ma r k is mos t anal ogous in genr e t o t he Gr aeco- Roman [Sioi.
6
At t he s ame t i me, one of t he feat ures of Ma r k' s Jesus- st or y i s t hat it i s a form
of hi st or i ogr aphy wr i t t en up i n apocal ypt i c mode .
7
Sever al t hi ngs evi dence t hi s:
(1) The Gos pel r epr esent s a f orm of mes s i ani s m in t hat t he cent ral char act er is
Jesus Chri st ( Mk 1.1). Ma r k' s pr ef er r ed t i t l e for Jesus, t he ' Son of Ma n ' , is al so
f ound i n ot her apocal ypt i c wr i t i ngs s uch as Dani el ( 7. 13- 15) , Revel at i on ( 1. 7,
13; 14. 14), 1 Enoch ( 3 7 - 7 1 , esp. 46. 1- 8; 48. 1- 10; 62. 1- 15; 70. 1) and 4 Ezra
( 13. 1- 13) . (2) The us e of par abl es, especi al l y in Ma r k 4, is i ndi cat i ve of ot her
apocal ypt i c l i t erat ure t hat uses par abl es such as t he Qumr a n wr i t i ngs ( l Qa p Ge n
20. 13- 16, 4Q302a ) , 4 Ezra ( 4. 47- 52; 8. 1-3), and 1 Enoch ( 37- 71) . The Mar can
par abl es are al so revel at ory i n t hat t hey i mpar t t he mys t er y (jjuaTrjpiov) of t he
ki ngdom of God ( Mk 4. 11- 12; cf. 6. 51- 52; 7. 19; 8. 17-21 and 13. 14) t hat const i -
t ut es an epi st emol ogi cal axi om for Ma r k.
8
(3) The di scour se of Ma r k 13, t hough
4. On the problems of finding and describing a 'Marcan community' see M. F. Bird, 'The
Marcan Community, Myth or Maze?', JTS 57 (2006), 474-86.
5. Cf. P. D. Hanson, 'Apocalypses and Apocalypticism', in D. N. Freedman (ed.), ABD
(6 vols.; ABRL; New York: Doubleday, 1992), 1:280-2.
6. R. A. Burridge, What are the Gospels?: A Comparison with Graeco-Roman Biography
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).
7. A. Y. Collins, 'Narrative, History and Gospel: A General Response', Semeia 43 (1990),
145-53 (148).
8. Joel Marcus, The Mystery of the Kingdom of God (Atlanta: Scholars, 1986), pp. 62-5,
3. Mark 47
not necessar i l y bur geoni ng wi t h apocal ypt i c devi ces l i ke heavenl y j our neys , is
r ecogni zabl e as an apocal ypt i c composi t i on. (4) The necessi t y of J es us ' deat h
( e. g. Mk 8. 31- 32; 9. 30- 32; 10. 32- 34; 14. 21) and its r edempt i ve si gni fi cance
( Mk 10. 45; 14. 22-25) ar e concei vabl e as t he out wor ki ng of an apocal ypt i c sce-
nar i o. Paul Hans on goes so far as t o say t hat : ' Wi t h Ma r k t he gos pel t radi t i on
r eaches its apocal ypt i c p e a k' .
9
Accor di ng t o N. T. Wr i ght , Ma r k i nvi t es r eader s
t o di scover t he i nner secret s behi nd t he out er st ory of Jesus, a st ory t hat ret el l s
and subver t s c ommon nar r at i ons of I sr ael ' s hi st ory and hopes . Whi l e denyi ng
t hat Ma r k is an apocal ypse, Wr i ght says never t hel ess t hat : 'Marks whole telling
of the story of Jesus is designed to function as an apocalypse'.
10
On t he whol e, t he at t ent i on gi ven t o si t uat i ng Ma r k i n t he cont ext of apoca-
l ypt i ci s m s eems appr opr i at e, al t hough comment at or s i nt er pr et i t s si gni fi cance
di fferent l y.
1 1
But h ow does Mar k' s apocal ypt i c eschat ol ogi cal framework i mpact
hi s cosmol ogi cal per s pect i ve?
1 2
The short ans wer is t hr ough t he radi cal dual i sm
of t he narrat i ve wher e t he cl i mact i c event s of J es us ' life reveal heavenl y si gns,
pr ovi de por t ent s of dest ruct i on, and offer gl i mpses of a gl or y t hat lies beyond t he
vei l of human knowl edge. I n addi t i on t o J es us ' t eachi ngs t hat r eveal t he myst er -
i es of t he Ki ngdom, and beyond J es us ' exor ci sms t hat fight t he bat t l e agai nst t he
evi l one, t he Mar can narrat i ve exhi bi t s key moment s wher e heaven and eart h
meet , and r eader s gai n a panor ami c vi ew of Mar k' s symbol i c uni ver se.
Marcan Cosmology: The Linguistic Indicators and their Significance
Ma r k ' s us e of ke y cos mol ogi cal t er ms i l l umi nat es hi s ' s ymbol i c uni ver s e'
of me a ni ng gener at ed b y hi s st or y of J es us . I n a s ens e Ma r k ' s Weltbild
coul d pot ent i al l y be des cr i bed as t hr ee- t i er ed wi t h oupccvos ( ' he a ve n' ) , yf|
( ' e a r t h' ) , and yeevvcc ( ' hel l ' ) . But what compl i cat es t hi s ar r angement i s t hat
Ma r k' s Weltbild i nt er f aces wi t h hi s Weltanschauung s o t hat t he const i t uent
l evel s of t he cr eat ed or der ar e per meat ed by spi r i t ual and pol i t i cal r eal i t i es
and t hey ar e par t of an over - ar chi ng nar r at i ve. The apocal ypt i c wor l d vi ew
229-33; idem, Mark 1-8: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (AB; New York:
Doubleday, 1999), pp. 303-3.
9. Hanson, * Apocalypses and Apocalypticism', 1:289.
10. N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992),
p. 395 (italics original).
11. For example, H. C. Kee, Community of the New Age: Studies in Mark's Gospel (London:
SCM, 1977), pp. 6476; idem, The Beginnings of Christianity: An Introduction to the New Testa-
ment (New York: T&T Clark, 2005), pp. 99-120; B. L. Mack, A Myth of Innocence: Mark and
Christian Origins (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988), pp. 325-31; C. Myers, Binding the Strongman:
A Political Reading of Mark's Story of Jesus (New York: Maryknoll, 1988); Wright, The New
Testament and the People of God, pp. 391-6; Marcus, Mark IS, pp. 70-3.
12. Cf. A. Y. Collins, Cosmology and Eschatology in Jewish and Christian Apocalypticism
(JSJSup 50; Leiden: Brill, 1996).
48 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
al so bl ur s t he heaven/ ear t h di st i nct i on i n its ent i ret y. Thus , it is per haps mor e
appr opr i at e t o s peak of Ma r k' s cos mol ogi cal nar r at i ve t han a speci fi c Welt-
bild. For i nst ance, t he wor d K T I O I S ( ' cr eat i on' ) occur s at Mk 10. 6; 13. 19 and
in Ps . - Mk 16. 15. Out of all of t he Gos pel s , t he wor d is f ound onl y in Ma r k and
is r ar e even i n t he Sept uagi nt whe r e it appear s onl y i n wor ks der i vi ng from
t he Hel l eni st i c pe r i od.
1 3
It s obvi ous sense i s t hat whi ch God has cr eat ed.
1 4
Ma r k' s speci fi c f or mul at i on under s t ands K T I O I S as t he r esul t of t he di vi ne
cr eat i on- act . Addi t i onal l y, sal vat i on wi l l ma r k a r est or at i on of di vi ne - huma n
and h u ma n - h u ma n r el at i ons hi ps back t o t he i ni t i al or der i ng of K T I O I S . The
r at i onal e for pr ohi bi t i ng di vor ce by t he Ma r c a n J es us i n Mk 10. 2- 9 i s t hat t he
comi ng of t he Ki n g dom wi l l ma r k a r et ur n t o t he pr i maeval st at e of h u ma n
r el at i ons, whe r e di vor ce bet ween ma n and wo ma n i s i mpos s i bl e si nce t he
uni on of ma l e and f emal e i s di vi nel y i nst i t ut ed. Hence, t he phr as e cctro 5e
apx?| S KTiaeeos ( ' f r om t he begi nni ng of cr eat i on' ) i s not s i mpl y a t empor al
mar ker , but des i gnat es t he nor mat i ve per i od t o whi c h h u ma n r el at i ons wi l l
r et ur n wi t h t he advent of t he ki ngdom. J es us demands t hat peopl e st art l i vi ng
t hat wa y n o w i n ant i ci pat i on of t he c omi ng ki ngdom. That i mpl i es t hat t he
or der i ng of K T I O I S i s mor e aut hor i t at i ve t han t he l aw of Mos e s . The us e of t he
wor d i n Mk 13. 19 si gni fi es t hat t he comi ng t r i bul at i on i s a cri si s t hat affect s
t he whol e K T I O I S . I n t hi s s ens e t he fat e of Jesus- f ol l ower s and t he fat e of
cr eat i on ar e i nt er t wi ned ( see Rom. 8. 19- 23) .
In regards t o KOOI J OS i n Mk 8. 36; 14. 9, and Ps. - Mk 16. 15, its use has slightly
negat i ve connot at i ons i n cont rast t o K T I O I S . For Mar k t he Koopos is t he s um
of huma n exi st ence, i ncl udi ng empi r es , nat i ons, mat er i al weal t h, pat r onage and
power t hat st ands agai nst Jesus and hi s fol l owers and at t he s ame t i me is i n
desper at e need of t hem. Accor di ng t o Mk 8. 36, i n f ol l owi ng Jesus a per s on
gai ns t hei r v|/uxr| ( ' s oul ' ) but spur ns t he Koopos ( ' wor l d' ) . The pr ocl amat i on of
t he gospel i s sai d t o c ome upon t he whol e Koopos ( Mk 14. 9; cf. Ps . - Mk 16. 15).
A compar i s on of Mk 14. 9 wi t h 13. 10 is i l l umi nat i ng:
Z\S iravra IA I0vn, TTDGDTOV SSI icripuxQflvai TO euayy'eAiov
And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations
(Mk 13.10).
15
auT)v 5e Aeyco v\i\v OTTOU eav Krjpuxfyl TO euayyeXiov BIS OXOV TOV KOOUOV, KCCI O
7roir|oev auTT) XaXrjOrjaeTai eis UVTIMOOUVOV auifis.
Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has
done will be told in remembrance of her
(Mk 14.9).
13. Cf. Jdt. 16.14; Tob. 8.5; 3 Mace. 6.2; Wis. 5.17; 16.24; 19.6; Sir. 43.25.
14. Thus, the addition of the phrase f]v IKTIOSV b 0ebs ('which God created') to CCTT' apx%
KTioseos ('from the beginning of creation') in Mk 13.19 is tautological and may rest on a Semitic
idiom.
15. On text-critical issues, grammar and meaning see M. F. Bird, Jesus and the Origins of the
Gentile Mission (LNTS, 331; London: T&T Clark, 2006), pp. 296-302.
3. Mark 49
The compar i s on s hows t hat Koopos and sBvos st and paral l el and ar e bot h
obj ect s of t he pr ocl amat i on of t he gospel . It is evi dent t hat Koopos and i 6vr |
al so st and i n opposi t i on t o t he gospel and r epr esent host i l i t y t o t he di vi ne or der
and t he di vi ne emi ssar i es. That is not t o say t hat t he Koopos is t he s ame t hi ng
as t he i 9vr). The l at t er i s a subset of t he former. I n t he J ewi s h r eckoni ng t he
nat i ons are what creat e such t umul t wi t hi n t he cos mos si nce t hey rebel agai nst
Israel , t he post - Edeni c cust odi ans of creat i on ( see Dani el 7 and 4 Ezra 6. 54- 59) .
Pr obabl y t he best exposi t i on of what Ma r k t hi nks of Koopos is f ound i n t he
st ori es of t he Ri ch Young Rul er ( Mk 10. 17-31) and t he t eachi ngs of Jesus about
servi ce ( Mk 10. 41- 45) , wher e t he pur sui t of possessi ons and powe r charact er-
i zes what t he wor l d val ues and aspi res t o. I n bot h st ori es t he val ues of Jesus and
t he ki ngdom are t he opposi t e of t he pr esent age. The comi ng of t he ki ngdom
and t he pr ocl amat i on of t he gospel resul t i n t he subver si on and finally t he t r ans-
f ormat i on of t he Koopos.
It mi ght be possi bl e t o specul at e and t o say t hat Ma r k has a sub- t ext ual
met a- nar r at i ve bei ng pl ayed out i n hi s Gos pel . The K T I O I S of God has be c ome
t he Koopos of t he nat i ons, and it i s t hr ough Jesus and hi s gospel t hat t he
Koopos wi l l begi n t o reflect t he gl or y and goodnes s of t he ori gi nal K T I O I S . I n
a sense t hi s i s st andar d apocal ypt i c t heol ogy. Wher e Ma r k differs from ot her
apocal ypt i ci st s i s i n hi s convi ct i on t hat t he r et ur n t o t he pr i maeval era, t he
r edempt i on of Israel , and t he r enewal of t he Ada mi c r ace do not occur t hr ough
a pur ge of t he Gent i l es or t hr ough t he mi l i t ar y t r i umph of a J ewi s h r ul er over
t he nat i ons ; rat her, it is t hr ough t he cr os s , in J e s us ' sufferi ng under t he fury
of t he gent i l e beas t s for Israel, and i n t he pr ocl amat i on of t he gos pel , t hat
t he al i enat i on bet ween cr eat i on and Cr eat or comes t o an end. It i s t hen i n t he
r umor s of r esur r ect i on t hat Ma r k al ert s hi s r eader s t o t he possi bi l i t y of a wor l d
n ow part i al l y r ebor n, but onl y for t hos e wi t h eyes t o see and ear s t o hear and
faith i n God.
The Marcan Inclusio: Tearing of the Heavens
The mos t si gni fi cant and mos t frequently us ed cos mol ogi cal t er m i n Ma r k' s
Gos pel is oupavos ( ' heaven' ) whi ch it occur s 16 t i mes i n al l .
1 6
I n Mar can us age
oupavos can funct i on as a ci r cuml ocut i on for ' Go d ' ( Mk 8. 11; 11. 30-31), Jesus
frequently l ooks t o t he oupavos i n per f or mi ng mi r acl es ( Mk 6. 41; 7. 34) , whi l e
el sewher e oupavos is us ed cosmol ogi cal l y for t he dwel l i ng pl ace of God, of
t he angel s and t he expans e above t he eart h ( Mk 1.10, 11; 4. 32; 10. 21; 11. 25;
12. 25; 13. 25, 27, 3 1 , 32; 14. 62). But t he si gni fi cance of oupavos for Ma r k' s
narrat i ve is best obser ved by j uxt apos i ng t he bapt i smal epi sode wi t h t he account
of J es us ' deat h.
16. Mk 1.10, 11; 4.32; 6.41; 7.34; 8.11; 10.21; 11.25,30, 31; 12.25; 13.25,27,31, 32; 14.62.
50 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
Km eysvcTO ev eiceivais toTis f|uepais fiXBevlnoous octto NaapeT rr\s TaXiXais
Km ipaTrTioBr) BIS Tov'lopSavriv uTrblcoavvou.
K(x\ eu9us avapaivcov Ik t o u uScctos ct&v oxiou'evous t o u s oupavous
Kai t o irveuua cos Trepiorepav KcxTaPcfiov eis auTov
Kai 4>covr| eyeveTO Ik t cov oupavcov ou el b uios uou b ayai rnTos , v 001
euooKrjoa.
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
And he was baptized by John into the Jordan.
And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens torn open
And the Spirit descending upon him like a dove
And a voice came from heaven, 'You are my beloved Son; with you I am well
pleased'
(Mk 1.9-11).
The st ory of J es us ' bapt i s m i s si gni fi cant bot h for earl y Chri st i ani t y and for
Ma r k' s Gos pel . The fact t hat Jesus wa s bapt i zed by John, whi ch i mpl i es J es us '
subor di nat i on t o John, and t hat it wa s a bapt i s m of r epent ance, wa s pot ent i al l y
embar r as s i ng t o t he earl y Chr i st i an movement . Never t hel es s , t he Evangel i st s
di d not shi rk from i ncl udi ng t he per i cope in t hei r Jesus- st or i es and t hey have
under s t ood it as par t of J es us ' commi s s i oni ng as bot h t he Ser vant of t he Lor d
and t he Mes s i ah, hence t he echoes of Isa. 4 2 . 1 ; 64. 1 and Ps . 2. 7. Wi t hi n t he
s cope of t he Mar can nar r at i ve t he bapt i s m epi sode si gnal s t he i naugur at i on of
t he n e w exodus , val i dat es J es us ' mes s i ani c i dent i t y, and mar ks out Jesus as t he
t rue r epr esent at i ve of t he J ewi s h nat i on t hr ough t he sol i dari t y of bapt i sm. The
pr es ence of t he di vi ne voi ce l ends s ome suppor t t o t he i dea t hat what t ranspi res
is an ' apocal ypt i c t he opha ny' .
1 7
Mor e t o t he poi nt , t hi s ' t heophany' resul t s i n
t he uni on of t he Mes s i ah wi t h t he Spi ri t , a wel l - known J ewi s h t heme (Isa. 11. 2;
61. 1; 1 En. 49. 3; 62. 2; Pss. Sol 17. 42; T. Levi 18. 6-7; T. Jud. 24. 2- 3) . I n Ma r k' s
nar r at i on: ' J es us is anoi nt ed by t he ver y pr es ence and power of Go d ' .
1 8
As J es us ' c a me u p ' out of t he wat er it is r epor t ed t hat ' he s aw t he heavens
t or n open' . Ma r k' s l anguage is cl earl y abrupt and dr amat i c, t hus Luke (Lk. 3. 21)
and Ma t t he w ( Mt . 3. 16) feel compel l ed t o subst i t ut e t he mor e s ubdued ccvoiyco
( ' ope n' ) for t he vi ol ent axico ( ' t ear ' ) . The ver b el5ev has Jesus as its subj ect
and not John. I n cont r ast t o Mat t hew and Luke, Ma r k' s ver si on i s not obj ect i v-
i zed, but it i s an exper i ence of Jesus. That compor t s wi t h t he not i on t hat Jesus
wa s a pr ophet i c seer wh o exper i enced vi si ons dur i ng t he cour s e of hi s mi ni st r y
( see Lk. 10. 18) .
1 9
The mot i f of t he t eari ng of t he heavens i s at t est ed el sewher e
17. J. Marcus, Way of the Lord: Christological Exegesis of the Old Testament in the Gospel of
Mark (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992), pp. 56-8.
18. B. Witherington, The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 2001), p. 75.
19. Cf. Christopher Rowland, The Open Heaven (London: SPCK, 1982), pp. 358-68; Ben
Witherington, Jesus the Seer (Peabody MA: Hendrickson, 1999), pp. 246-92.
3. Mark 51
in I sr ael ' s sacr ed t radi t i ons and Second Templ e l i t erat ure (Isa. 6 4 . 1 ; Ezek. 1.1;
2 Bar. 22. 1; T. Levi 2. 6; 5. 1; 18. 6; T. Jud. 24. 2- 3; Jos. Asen. 14. 2-3) as wel l as
t he Ne w Test ament ( Jn 1. 51; Act s 7. 56; Rev. 4 . 1 ; 11. 19; 19. 11). Vi ncent Tayl or
comment s : ' The r endi ng of t he heavens i s a c ommon feat ure of apocal ypt i c
t hought , t he under l yi ng i dea bei ng t hat of a fixed separ at i on of heaven from
eart h onl y t o be br oken i n speci al ci r cums t ances ' .
2 0
The ' t ear i ng' mos t l i kel y echoes Isa. 64. 1 [LXX 63. 19] and it is i nt er est i ng t o
obser ve h ow such i nt ert ext ual i t y shapes Mar k' s cosmol ogi cal and t heol ogi cal
per spect i ve.
Oh, that you would tear the heavens [LXX: avoi ds TOV oupavov,
MT: ''DC? nmp and come down.
That the mountains might quake at your presence
As when fire kindles brushwood
And the fire causes water to boil to make your name known to your adversaries
And that the nations might tremble at your presence
(Isa. 64.1-2).
I n cont ext , t he pr ophet desper at el y l ongs for I sr ael ' s l i berat i on from f orei gn
oppr essi on. Wh e n t hi s day comes , it wi l l be t he comi ng of God hi msel f. I n t he
di vi ne vi si t at i on t he heavens ar e t or n and t he eart h quakes , boi l s and mel t s at
t he pr esence of God. God ent ers i nt o cont ent i on agai nst I srael ' s oppr essor s (Isa.
64. 2- 4) , He br i ngs cl eansi ng from si n and i ni qui t y (Isa. 64. 5- 7) and r est or es
Jer usal em from desol at i on (Isa. 64. 8- 12) . The pl ea of I sai ah 61 is for a heaven-
shaki ng and ear t h- shat t er i ng event wher eby God i nt er venes agai nst I sr ael ' s
adver sar i es and r est or es t he fort unes of Israel . The hope for di vi ne i nt er vent i on
i s cast i n cat acl ysmi c and cos mi c i mager y wher e t he t ear i ng of t he heavens
occasi ons t he r evel at i on of God i nt o t he wor l d t o r adi cal l y t r ansf or m t he ci r-
cums t ances of hi s peopl e. Mar k' s empl oyment of t hi s I sai ani c mot i f has t he
effect t hat t he desper at el y sought after t heophany of God and t he associ at ed
ear t h- mel t i ng r evel at i on of t he di vi ne pr es ence has t aken pl ace i n Jesus. Ma r k' s
bapt i smal account , far from i mpl yi ng an adopt i oni st chri st ol ogy, exhi bi t s an
i mpl i ci t i ncarnat i onal chr i st ol ogy wher e t he t eari ng of t he heavens t hat ma r ke d
t he comi ng of God i nst ead mar ks t he uni on of God' s Spi ri t wi t h God' s Son.
2 1
The onl y l anguage appr opr i at e t o descr i be t hi s uni on of di vi ne agent s i s t he
cosmol ogi cal l anguage of heaven bei ng r i pped open.
Al t hough it is not i mmedi at el y obvi ous, t he t eari ng of t he vei l i n t he t empl e at
t he moment of J es us ' deat h i n Mk 15. 39 act ual l y has great significance for Mar k' s
story. It is al so rel at ed i n mor e t han one way t o t he bapt i smal account .
2 2
20. V. Taylor, The Gospel According to St. Mark (London: Macmillan, 1952), p. 160.
21. Although it is common to regard Mark's Christology as 'low', this evaluation overlooks
the abundance of 'God' language used for Jesus in the Marcan Gospel. See E. Boring, 'Markan
Christology: God-Language for Jesus?', NTS 45 (1999), 451-71.
22. Cf. S. Motyer, 'The Rending of the Veil: A Markan Pentecost', NTS 33 (1987), 155-7.
52 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
b Se'lrjoous a<t>eis 4>covr)V ueyaXrjv e^sTrveuaev.
KOL\ TO KCCTaiTCTaaua TOU vaou eoxiaBr] sis duo arf avco6ev ecos KCCTCO.
iScbv 5e b Kevrupicov b iTapearr|Kcos e evavTi as CCUTOU OTI OUTCOS e^'eTrveuoev
elTTEV* aXnScas OUTOS 6 avOpcotros uibs 8eou ?|v.
And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed-out his last.
And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that he thus breathed his last, he
said, 'Truly this man was the Son of God'
(Mk 15.37-39).
What is depi ct ed her e is t he vei l or curt ai n of t he Hol y Pl ace bei ng ripped
compl et el y and t hor oughl y i nt o t wo par t s .
2 3
The funct i on of t he event is pr ob-
abl y t wof ol d. Fi rst , t he t ear i ng of t he vei l funct i ons as riposte t o t he char ges t hat
Jesus i s a ps eudo- pr ophet ( Mk 14. 62) and ps eudo- Mes s i ah ( Mk 15. 32), and so
vi ndi cat es J es us ' cl ai ms, despi t e hi s t ri al and cruci fi xi on, agai nst t hese char ges.
Second, t he t eari ng of t he vei l announces t he t r i umph of t he eschat ol ogi cal ki ng
and t he decl ar at i on of j udgement upon an apost at e i nst i t ut i on.
2 4
Thi s compor t s
wi t h Ma r k' s vi ew of t he Templ e as apost at e and ripe for j udgement gi ven hi s
i nt ercal at i on of t he Templ e i nci dent br acket ed by t he cur si ng of t he fig t ree ( Mk
11. 12-25) and t he pr edi ct i on of t he Templ e' s dest ruct i on i n t he Ol i vet di scourse
( Mk 13. 2; cf. 15. 29) .
2 5
23. The word vabs could refer to either the Holy of Holies (e.g. Mt 23.17, 35) or the temple
generally (e.g. Mk 14.58; 15.29; Lk. 1.9; Jn 2.19-20). Likewise, KaTCCTTCTaoua could refer to the
curtain of the inner sanctuary (Exod. 26.31-35; Lev. 16.2,12; 21.23; 24.3; Num. 3.26; [LXX]; Jose-
phus, Ant. 8.75, 90; War 5.219; Heb. 6.19; 9.3; 10.20; Philo, Vit. Mos. 2.86, 101; cf. Gos. Phil.
84) or the outer sanctuary (Exod. 26.37; 38.18; Josephus, Ant. 8.75; War 5.212; Ep. Arist. 86; also
used is KaXuuucc in Exod. 27.16; 40.5; Num. 3.25). In some later Christian literature the curtain in
question is ambiguous (cf. Gos. Naz. 36; Gos. Eh. 6; Gos. Pet. 5.20; Gos. Jos. 24.3; T. Levi 10.3 [if
a Christian interpolation]). Others such as R. Pesch (Das Markus Evangelium [2 vols.; HTKNT;
Freiburg: Herder, 1976-77], 2:498) and R. Brown (Death of the Messiah [ABRL; New York: Dou-
bleday, 1994], pp. 1109-13) think it is either irrelevant or impossible to determine which curtain was
destroyed However, from Golgotha only the outer curtain of the Holy Place or court of the Israelites
would be visible (cf. Mt 27.51,54). Although the tearing of the curtain in the Holy of Holies would
be theologically significant, as the metaphor is for the author of Hebrews, R. T. France (The Gospel
of Mark [NIGTC: Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2002], pp. 656-7) is correct to note that we cannot
assume that Mark shared the same theological perspective as the writer to the Hebrews. Mark's focus
is not about human access to the divine as such (though it is probably implied), his attention is the
dramatic and visual effect of Jesus' death and the confirmation of a forthcoming judgment against
the temple. In support of a reference to the outer curtain see J. R. Edwards, The Gospel According
to Mark (PNTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), pp. 478-9; France, Mark, pp. 656-7, and BDAG,
524. See for general discussion D. M. Gurtner, 'The Veil of the Temple in History and Legend', JETS
49 (2006), 97-114 who thinks there was only 'one' curtain in the Herodian Temple.
24. C. Rowland, 'Christ in the New Testament', in John Day (ed.), King and Messiah in Israel
and the Ancient Near East (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998), p. 480.
25. C. Evans, Mark 8:27-16:20 (WBC; Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2001), p. 509.
3. Mark 53
Pr edi ct i ons of t he Templ e' s dest r uct i on ( s ome l egendary, s ome ex eventu,
and s ome per haps genui nel y pr edi ct i ve) oft en i ncl ude accompanyi ng si gns
as s oci at ed wi t h i t s dest r uct i on. J os ephus wr i t es t hat ma n y di vi ne por t ent s
occur r ed l eadi ng up t o t he wa r wi t h Rome . Thes e wer e appar ent l y si gns t hat
f oret ol d t he fut ure desol at i on of t he t empl e ( War 5. 288- 315) . Taci t us st at es t hat
dur i ng t he assaul t of t he t empl e t he door of t he east gat e of t he i nner cour t sud-
denl y opened by t hems el ves and a gr eat voi ce cri ed, ' The gods ar e depar t i ng'
(Hist. 5. 13; cf. J os ephus , War 5. 412) . The Testament of Levi decl ar es t hat ' t he
cur t ai n of t he t empl e wi l l be t or n' as a j udge me nt on I sr ael ' s l awl essness and
s hamel es s behavi our (T. Levi 10. 3). I n Lives of the Prophets a pr ophecy wa s
gi ven t hat a ' wes t er n nat i on' woul d c ome and ' t he cur t ai n of t he Dabeir [hol y
of hol i es] wi l l be t or n i nt o smal l pi eces ' (Liv. Proph. 12. 11-12). In a r abbi ni c
t r adi t i on t he Roma n gener al Ti t us sl ashed t he vei l wi t h hi s s wor d (b. Git. 56b) .
Ma r k' s account of t he t ear i ng of t he vei l i s anal ogous t o si mi l ar si gns associ -
at ed wi t h t he dest r uct i on of t he Templ e as an act of di vi ne j udge me nt agai nst
Israel .
The ' t ear i ng of t he heavens ' nar r at ed i n Mk 1.10 rel at es t o t he ' t ear i ng of t he
vei l ' i n Mk 15. 38 i n several ways . Fi rst , bot h t ear i ngs occur i n t he cont ext of
bapt i sm. The ' t ear i ng' i n Mk 1.10 t ranspi res in t he set t i ng of J es us ' bapt i s m by
J ohn and i n conj unct i on wi t h J es us ' i dent i fi cat i on as t he messi ani c son and hi s
i nt ent i on t o l aunch t he Isai ani c Exodus . Conver sel y, t he t eari ng of t he vei l i n Mk
15. 38 t akes pl ace at t he mome nt of J es us ' deat h, whi ch has al r eady been i dent i -
fied as J es us ' bapt i s m el sewher e in t he Mar can st ory ( Mk 10. 37-39). Second, in
bot h passages t he t ear i ngs are accompani ed by ref erence t o m/ s u p a or ' Spi r i t ' .
I n Mk 1.8-10, Jesus r ecei ves t he ' Hol y Spi ri t ' di rect l y after t he heavens are
t or n open, whi l e i n Mk 15. 37 he ' expi r at es ' ( E K T T V E C O ) or gi ves up t he Spi ri t j us t
pr i or t o t he t ear i ng of t he vei l . The act i vi t y of t he Spi ri t i n t he mi ni st r y of Jesus
is onl y oper at i ve bet ween hi s bapt i sm and hi s deat h, bet ween t he first oy\t^
and t he second axco. Thi rd, bot h t eari ngs ar e f ol l owed i mmedi at el y wi t h an
announcement of J es us ' di vi ne sonshi p. I n Mk 1. 11a voi ce from heaven cal l s
Jesus, b M\6S | i ou b ayaTrr|T6s ( ' my bel oved s on' ) whi l e t he cent ur i on at t he
cr oss prof esses t hat , aArjBcos O U T O S 6 avSpcoi r os uibs 8 E O U f]v ( ' t r ul y t hi s
ma n wa s t he Son of God' ) . The di vi ne voi ce and t he cent ur i on' s conf essi on
be c ome moment s of revel at i on, t r i gger ed by t he t ear i ngs, whi ch di scl ose J es us '
messi ani c i dent i t y and hi s uni que filial rel at i on t o I sr ael ' s God. Four t h, and
mos t si gni fi cant of al l , bot h t eari ngs are i n fact t eari ngs of t he heavens , al bei t
i n different ways . Thi s i s ma de expl i ci t in Mk 1.10 ( o u p a v o s , ' heaven' ) , but
t he vei l i n t he out er sanct uary is al so a t eari ng of t he heavens si nce t he vei l
wa s decor at ed wi t h an embr oi der ed pat t er n of t he uni ver se upon i t .
2 6
J os ephus
descri bes t he out er vei l of t he Jer usal em t empl e as it wa s dur i ng Her odi an t i mes.
26. Cf. further D. Ulansey, 'The Heavenly Veil Tom: Mark's Cosmic "Inclusio" ', JBL 110
(1991), 123-5.
54 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
Accor di ng t o J os ephus , t hi s vei l wa s i nt ri cat el y craft ed and meas ur ed s ome 80
feet i n hei ght . J os ephus descr i bes t he vei l as fol l ows:
TTpb 6e T O U T C O V ioourjKes KccTaTTeTaoucc TTCTTXOS f\v BaPuXcovios TTOI KI XTOS e
uaKiv6ou Kai pdoaou K O K K O U T E Km TTOp<|>upas BauuaoTGas uev si pyaai jevos O U K
aSecoprjTov 5e TT)S uXrjs T T | V Kpaoiv Ixcov aXX' cooiTep eiKova T C OV OXCOV
KaTeyeypaTTTO & b TTETTXOS ocTTaoav TTJV oupavi ov Secopiav TTXTIV cp5icov
But before these doors there was a veil of equal size with the doors. It was a Baby-
lonian tapestry, with embroidery of blue and fine linen, of scarlet also and purple,
wrought with marvelous skill. Nor was this mixture of materials without its mystic
meaning: it typified the universe...
Crafted on this tapestry was a panorama of the heavens except for the signs of the
zodiac.
(Josephus, War 5.212, 14).
Thus , whi l e t her e is no ment i on of t he t ear i ng of t he oupocvos, t he s ame mot i f
is suppl i ed by t he t ear i ng of t he vei l whi ch wa s a t apest ry of t he heavens . Davi d
Ul ans ey wr i t es:
In other words, the outer veil of the Jerusalem temple was actually one huge image of
the starry sky! Thus, upon encountering Mark's statement that 'the veil of the temple
was torn in two from top to bottom', any of his readers who had ever seen the temple
or heard it described would instantly have seen in their mind's eye an image of the
heavens being torn, and would immediately have been reminded of Mark's earlier
description of the heavens being torn at the baptism. This can hardly be coincidence:
the symbolic parallel is so striking that Mark must have consciously intended i t.
2 7
Dal e C. Al l i s on cont ends t hat t he r endi ng of t he out er vei l wi t h t he heavens
upon it me a ns t hat t he r endi ng of t he heavens of t he ' Da y of t he Lor d' has
c ome t o pas s ( J ob 14. 12 [LXX]; Ps . 102. 26; Isa. 6 4 . 1 ; Ha g. 2. 6; Sib. Or. 3. 82;
8. 233, 4 1 3 ; Mt . 24. 29; Lk. 21. 25; 2 Pet . 3. 10; Rev. 6. 14) .
2 8
Thi s i s s uppor t ed
furt her on t he gr ounds t hat t he i mager y and l anguage of Mk 15. 33, wi t h t he
s udden ' da r kne s s ' (cf. Exod. 10. 21; Jer. 15. 9; Amo s 8. 9), s ugges t t hat t he
comi ng j udge me nt of t he Da y of t he Lor d i s mani f es t ed at J e s us ' cr uci f i xi on.
2 9
27. Ulansey, 'Heavenly Veil Torn', p. 125. R. H. Gundry (Mark: A Commentary on His
Apology for the Cross [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993], p. 972) objects as to whether the
pattern on the tapestry can be thought of as being significant for Mark's readers: 'But Mark cannot
expect an audience who require his explanation of Jewish matters to know the pictorial design
embroidered on the outer veil of the Jewish temple. Had they known so much about the temple, he
would have needed to specify the outer veil if they were to detect the suggest symbolism'. Against
Gundry we simply do not know how much of the design and artistry of the temple was known to
Mark's readers or to Christians outside of Judaea. But the spread of Christians from Palestine to
the Diaspora and the reports of the Temple's destruction may have meant mat such knowledge
was more widespread than Gundry allows for.
28. D. C. Allison, The End of Ages Has Come (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1985), p. 33.
29. E. Best, The Temptation and the Passion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 3rd
edn, 1990), p. 126.
3. Mark 55
I n Ma r k' s ' Da y of t he Lor d' t her e i s a cos mol ogi cal t r ansf er t aki ng pl ace
whe r e t he dr amat i c and apocal ypt i c event once t r ans pi r i ng i n heaven i s n o w
sai d t o t ake pl ace i n t he Templ e, whi c h has b e c ome t he s t r at os pher e of di vi ne
r evel at i on and j udge me nt . That accor ds wi t h t he J ewi s h per cept i on of t he
Templ e as t he epi cent r e of t he ear t h and t he ne xus t o heaven. Th e Templ e
wa s al so filled wi t h ' c os mi c s ymbol i s m' and coul d r epr es ent t he i nhabi t ed
wor l d, t he expans e of t he cos mos , an ear t hl y count er par t t o t he heavens or a
mi c r oc os m of he a ve n and ear t h (cf. Ps . 78. 69; J os ephus , Ant. 3. 181; Phi l o,
Vit. Mos. 2. 87- 88) .
3 0
As such, t he l i nes be t we e n heaven and ear t h b e c ome
bl ur r ed moment ar i l y upon bot h ' t ear i ngs ' . The first t ear i ng i ndi cat es t hat wha t
wa s excl us i vel y avai l abl e t hr ough t he Templ e, t he di vi ne pr es ence, i s n o w
avai l abl e t hr ough J es us . The s econd t ear i ng si gni fi es t hat t he di vi ne pr es ence
i s n o l onger as s oci at ed wi t h t he Templ e, as i t s j u dg e me n t i s n o w seal ed by
vi r t ue of t he r ol e of t he t empl e l eader s hi p i n or ches t r at i ng J e s us ' deat h. I n t he
wor ds of He r ma n Waet j en:
Jerusalem is no longer the navel of the world where heaven and earth are united
and where God's presence is uniquely experienced. Heaven and earth have been
reconciled cosmically and universally. Accordingly, the binary opposition between
the sacred and the secular, constituted by the temple as the axis mundi of Judaism,
is dissolved. Both are reunited, and the entire creation once again becomes ambigu-
ously sacred and profane... God's presence will be experienced wherever the escha-
tological reality of the New Humanity that Jesus incarnated throughout his ministry
is encountered.
31
The Marean Apocalypse: Shaking the Heavenlies
The di scour se of Ma r k 13 has been cal l ed t he ' Eschat ol ogi cal Di s cour s e' , t he
' Ol i vet Di s cour s e' and t he ' Li t t l e Apocal yps e' . The speech is not st ri ct l y speak-
i ng an apocal yps e,
3 2
but it cont ai ns ma ny st ri ki ng si mi l ari t i es t o an apocal yps e
i ncl udi ng fami l i ar i mager y ( cosmi c por t ent s) , c ommon t heol ogi cal feat ures
(e. g. det er mi ni sm, pes s i mi s m, combat myt h and j udgement ) , and shar ed mot i f s
(e. g. t he pr edi ct i on of fami l i al di scor d i n v. 12, t he pr edi ct i on of t he t ri bul at i on
i n v. 13, t he cos mi c si gns i n w . 24- 25, and t he gat her i ng of t he el ect i n v. 27)
t hat signify t hat Ma r k 13 is an apocal ypt i c- pr ophet i c di scour se wr i t t en u p i n a
30. G. K. Beale, The Temple and the Church's Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling
Place of God (NSBT 17; Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2004), pp. 2-80.
31. H. C. Waetjen, A Reordering of Power: A Socio-Political Reading of Marks Gospel (Min-
neapolis: Fortress, 1989), p. 238; see also Patella, Lord of the Cosmos, p. 111.
32. Cf. the definition given by John Collins: 'Apocalypse is a genre of revelatory literature
with a narrative framework, in which a revelation is mediated by an otherworldly being to a
human recipient, disclosing a transcendent reality which is both temporal, insofar as it envis-
ages eschatological salvation, and spatial, insofar as it involves another supernatural world'. J. J.
Collins, 'Apocalypses and Apocalypticism',^/ ) 1:279.
56 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
uni que l i t erary f or m.
3 3
Ma r k 13 is about t he end of t he wor l d - mor e pr oper l y
t he end of ' a wor l d' - t he wor l d of J udai s m cent r ed upon t he J er us al em Tem-
pl e .
3 4
I find mys el f i n agr eement wi t h a gr owi ng number of comment at or s who
suggest t hat Ma r k 13 concer ns i t sel f wi t h t he dest r uct i on of J er us al em and not
(di rect l y at l east ) wi t h t he parousia of J e s u s .
3 5
1 cannot i magi ne Ma r k depi ct i ng
t he di sci pl es as aski ng Jesus a quest i on about t he dest r uct i on of t he Templ e
and t hen havi ng Jesus r es pond by engagi ng in a speech about hi s r et ur n from
heaven. It ma y be possi bl e t o t ake t he l at er sect i ons i n w . 32- 37 as referri ng t o
t he eschat ol ogi cal denouement
3 6
or det ect a mer gi ng of hi st ori cal and eschat o-
l ogi cal event s t hr oughout t he s peech,
3 7
but t hi s is far from cert ai n. That bei ng
sai d one does not have t o col l apse t he ent i re eschat ol ogi cal scenar i o i nt o pr e- 70
CE event s. As Hei nr i ch Hol t zmann s aw l ong ago, t he dest r uct i on of Jer usal em
i t sel f mar ks t he begi nni ng of God' s final j udge me nt .
3 8
The ' Da y of t he Lor d'
and t he ' comi ng of t he Son of Ma n ' t hat br i ng j udgement on Jer usal em r emai n
a typos for a fut ure j udgement of t he O I K O U I J E V T ] ( ' i nhabi t ed wor l d' ) and t he
sal vat i on of t he E A E K T O ! ( ' el ect ' ) t hat wi l l t ake pl ace t hr ough t he appoi nt ed
j udge , J es us Chri st , as t he ear l y Chr i st i ans wer e t o bel i eve ( Act s 10. 42; 17. 31;
Rom. 2. 16) . We shoul d not forget ei t her t hat r egar dl ess of h ow one under st ands
t he referent s for t he eschat ol ogi cal event s por t r ayed i n Mk 13. 3- 37, t he ul t i mat e
t ask of t he t ext is par aenet i c, vi z. , an exhor t at i on t o fai t hful ness and endur ance
in t he l i ght of t he sufferi ngs and t ri bul at i on about t o occur.
Wh a t i s of i mmedi at e concer n is t he i mager y i n t he l at er s ect i ons of t he
di scour se:
' AAAa i v eiceivais T O I S Tiuepais ueTa TTJV 0A?V| / IV eKEivrjv 6 fjAios cncoTia8f)aTai,
Kai r\ aeArjVT) ou Scooei T O <J>eyyos auTrjs, Kai oi aorepes I O O V T O I I K T O U oupavou
TTiTTTovTESf K O I ai Suvauei s ai ev T O 7 S oupavol s aaAeuSrjOovTai.
33. On the association of Mark 13 with an apocalypse see further J. D. G. Dunn, Unity and
Diversity in the New Testament (London: SCM, 2nd edn, 1990), p. 329. See also Gerd Theissen
(The Gospels in Context: Social and Political History in the Synoptic Tradition [trans. Linda M.
Maloney; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991], pp. 134-5) who labels the speech 'apocalyptic prophecy'.
34. Cf. N. T. Wright, yew** and the Victory of God (COQG; London: SPCK, 1996), pp. 345-6;
Witherington, Mark, p. 340; Beale, Temple, pp. 212-16.
35. Examples include R. T. France, Jesus and the Old Testament (London: Tyndale, 1971), pp.
139-48,231-3; idem, Mark, pp. 497-546; G. B. Caird, New Testament Theology (ed. L. D. Hurst;
Oxford: Clarendon, 1994), 365-6; Wright, New Testament and People of God, pp. 393-6; idem,
Jesus and the Victory of God, pp. 339-68; S. McKnight, A New Vision for Israel: The Teachings
of Jesus in National Context (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), p. 142; B. Pitre, Jesus, the Tribula-
tion, and the End of the Exile (WUNT 2.204; Tubingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 2005), pp. 330-48.
36. France, Jesus and the Old Testament, pp. 231-2; idem, Mark, pp. 541-6.
37. Cf. E. Adams, 'Historical Crisis and Cosmic Crisis in Mark 13 and Lucan's Civil War\
TynBul 48 (1997), 329-44; idem, 'The Coming of the Son of Man in Mark's Gospel', TynBul 56
(2005), 39-61; Evans, Mark, pp. 328-9.
38. H. J. Holtzmann, Lehrbuch der Neutestamentlichen Theologie (2 vols; Tubingen: Mohr/
Siebeck, 2nd edn, 1911 [1896-1897]), 1:150.
3. Mark 57
Kai T O T E OV| / OVTCCI T O V uibv Tou avSpcotrou epxopevov Iv ve<t>'eAais METCX
5uva|j6cos TTOXXTJS Kai 6orjs.
Kai T O T C aTToareAsi T O U S ayyeXous KOCI eTnauvaei T O U S eicAeKTous EK T Q V
Teooapcov avcpcov a if aicpou yfjs ecos aicpou oupavou.
But in those days, after that tribulation, title sun will be darkened, and the moon will
not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the
heavens will be shaken.
And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.
And then he will send out the angels, and will gather the elect from the four winds,
from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
(Mk 13.24-27)
Comment at or s are per pl exed as t o whet her or not t he i mager y of cel est i al havoc
refers t o t he dest ruct i on of Jer usal em or t o t he end of t he space- t i me uni verse
and whet her t he descri pt i ons shoul d be t aken literally or met aphori cal l y. The
l anguage itself is der i ved from Isa. 13. 10 and 34. 4 t hat depi ct t he vengeance of
God execut ed agai nst Babyl on and Edom (see si mi l ar met aphor s in Isa. 14. 4,
12- 15; Ezek. 32. 5- 8; Joel 2. 10- 11, 30- 32; 3. 14- 15; Amos 8. 9) .
3 9
What we find in
all of t hese passages are predi ct i ons of a di vi ne j udgement , whi ch is t empor al , in
a hi st ori cal framework, and is ori ent at ed agai nst a pol i t i cal ent i t y t hat t hreat ens
Israel . The accompanyi ng l anguage wi t h its cosmi c upheaval and geophysi cal
di st urbances i nvest s pol i t i cal event s wi t h t heol ogi cal meani ng.
4 0
The l anguage
of t he heavens bei ng shaken and stars falling is not literal (l i ke met eor s cr ashi ng
t o eart h) but it ai ms t o i nt roduce a t ranscendent perspect i ve i nt o t he equat i on so
t hat t he ri se and demi s e of empi r es is not a mat t er of pur el y hi st ori cal cause and
effect ( due t o economi c, pol i t i cal and soci al forces) but resul t s from t he radi cal
i nt ervent i on of Israel ' s God i nt o t he sphere of human empi r es, emper or s, ci t i es,
and al l i ances. Thi s is mos t apt l y descri bed as religio-political cosmology. But
t hi s is mor e t han usi ng met aphor i cal l anguage t o descri be Anci ent Near East ern
pol i t i cs, as t here is undoubt edl y a rel i gi ous di mensi on t o t he event s descri bed.
Ther e is an i nt ri nsi c connect i on bet ween pagan pol i t i cs and t he pagan pant heon;
i n or der t o dest roy one, you mus t dest roy t he other. The l umi nari es t hat cr ash t o
eart h ma y be t aken figuratively for t he ej ect i on of pagan gods from t he heav-
enl y habi t at i on by Yahweh. It is under st andabl e h ow such s ymbol i s m coul d be
appl i ed t o Babyl on, Egypt , Edom or Rome , but t he appl i cat i on of such vi vi d
met aphor s t o t he dest ruct i on of Jer usal em ma y appear deci dedl y odd. The rat i o-
nal e is per haps t hat t he rel i gi on of t he Jer usal em Templ e is effectively pagan and
t hi s Templ e and all its pol i t i cal and economi c t i ers wi l l bear t he di vi ne wr at h.
39. See the excellent treatment by Pitre, Jesus, pp. 333-4 on the imagery and its connection
to Jewish restoration hopes. More immediately we should note that the eclipses of the sun and
moon were often regarded as signs foreshadowing the death of kings and the destruction of cities:
Eusebius, Praep. Ev. 395d; Plutarch, Caes. 69; Dio Cassius 56.29.3; Josephus, Ant. 17.167; Sib.
Or. 3.796-803.
40. Cf. Wright, New Testament and the People of God, pp. 298-9.
58 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
The i nt erface of r el i gi ous and pol i t i cal meani ngs i s cont i nued i n t he comi ng
of t he Son of Ma n i n Mk 13. 26. The l anguage i s an expl i ci t echo of Dan.
7. 13- 14 and t he under l yi ng nar r at i ve cr eat ed by t he i nt ert ext ual al l usi on is t hat
of t he r epr esent at i ve of God' s peopl e goi ng bef or e t he Anci ent of Days (i . e.
Yahweh) and r ecei vi ng ki ngs hi p and vi ndi cat i on over and agai nst t he pagan
beast s wh o oppr ess t he J ewi s h peopl e. The Dani el i c vi si on of t he ent hr onement
of t he vi ct ori ous Son of Ma n is ost ensi bl y t r ansf or med i nt o t he t r i umph of Jesus
agai nst t he Templ e. Thi s does not spel l out t he demi s e of t he J ewi s h nat i on, but
r at her I s r ael ' s vi ndi cat i on t hr ough t he ful fi l ment of J e s us ' pr ophe c y agai nst
t he Templ e.
4 1
The pol i t i cal di mens i on i s under s cor ed furt her wi t h t he st at ement
t hat t he el ect wi l l be gat her ed from t he ends of t he eart h. The act ma y not
onl y be concur r ent wi t h t he dest r uct i on of t he Templ e, but t o s ome degr ee al so
l ook beyond it. A c ommonl y hel d hope i n I sr ael ' s sacr ed t radi t i ons wa s for t he
r egat her i ng of t he Di as por a t o Pal est i ne and t he r et ur n of t he exi l es t o Jer usal em
wi t h Gent i l es i n t ow.
4 2
The di scour se t hus shifts from j udgement t o rest orat i on,
from pol i t i cal di si nt egrat i on t o nat i onal re-creat i on.
Thus , Ma r k' s nar r at i on cos mol ogy i s j us t as pol i t i cal as it i s r el i gi ous and
spat i al . Bet ween God, t he firmament, eart h, and pol i t i cal ki ngdoms i s an
i ndel i bl e connect i on. Howe ve r forei gn it mi ght be t o our mode r n mi ndset , t he
shaki ng of t he heavens me a ns t he end of pol i t i cal fort unes and t he radi cal t r ans-
f ormat i on of rel i gi ous real i t i es.
Conclusion
The Ne w Test ament aut hor s ar e har dl y unani mous i n shar i ng t he one Weltbild*
3
but t hey do par t ake of a si mi l ar Weltanschauung i n t hat Jesus i s God' s agent t o
br i ng sal vat i on t o t he el ect , and t hi s sal vat i on wi l l have a t r ansf or mat i ve i mpact
upon t he whol e of t he i nhabi t ed wor l d. Ma r k' s cont r i but i on t o t hat per spect i ve
is t hat t he comi ng of Jesus has wr ought a cat acl ysmi c t r ansf or mat i on i n t he
rel at i on bet ween heaven and ear t h.
4 4
Al t hough t he Koopos i s host i l e t o God' s
41. Cf. further France, Mark, pp. 534-5.
42. Deut. 30.4; Ps. 107.2-3 (= 106.2-3 L X X ) ; Isa. 11.11-12; 35.10; 43.5; 49.5-6, 22-26; 56.8;
60.4,9; 66.20; Jer. 3.18; 31.10; Ezek. 11.17; 20.34,41; 28.25; 34.12-16; 36.19,24-28; 37.21-23;
39.27-28; Zeph. 3.20; Zech. 2.6-11; 8.7-8; 10.9-12; 2 Mace. 1.27-29; 2.18; Sir. 36.11-22; 48.10;
Bar. 4.37; 5.5; 4 Ezra 13.39-50; Tob. 13.4-5; 14.5-6; Josephus, Ant. 11.63, 98, 131-33; Philo,
Praem. Poen. 117, 164-70; Pss. Sol. 8.28; 11.1-5; 17.31, 44; T. Jos. 19.2-12 (Arm); I En. 57.1;
90.33;/wZ>. 1.15-18; 23.27'-32; 2 Bar. 29.1-30.3; 78.7; T. Benj. 9.2; 10.11; 7. Mw. 10.7-10; Sib.
Or. 3.265-294; 1QM 2.1-3, 7; 3.13; 5.1; 11Q19 18.14-15; 57.5-6; 59.9-13; CD 2.11-12; m.Sanh.
10.3; t.Sanh. 13.10; Tg. Isa. 45.5; 53.8; Tg. Hos. 14.8; Tg. Mw. 5.1-3; Lk. 13.28-29/Mt. 8.11-12;
Jn 11.52; Lk. 24.21; Acts 1.6; 26.7; Rev. 21.12; Justin, Dial Tryph. 134.4.
43. Collins, Cosmology and Eschatology, p. 32.
44. In addition to the rending of the veil and the eschatological discourse, the transfiguration
(Mk 9.2-8) has a further bearing upon Mark's cosmological perspective.
3. Mark 59
peopl e, a t i me is comi ng whe n t he Koopos wi l l begi n t o reflect t he goodnes s of
t he ori gi nal K T I O I S . Fol l owi ng t he Isai ani c script, Mar k descri bes t he anoi nt i ng
of t he messi ani c Servant for hi s mi ni st ry as commenci ng wi t h t he heavens bei ng
r i pped open and t he Spi ri t descendi ng i nt o hi m. The r endi ng of t he vei l i n t he
Templ e si gnal s t he end, however , of t he Templ e' s r ol e as a nexus i nt o t he di vi ne
r eal m. The t ear i ng is a s ymbol of j udgement upon t he rel i gi ous i nst i t ut i on and
its l eader shi p. Li kewi s e, t he shaki ng of t he heavens and t he fal l i ng st ars whe n
j uxt apos ed wi t h t he comi ng of t he Son of Ma n i n Ma r k 13 i s i ndi cat i ve of a
par t i cul ar met aphys i cal const ruct i on wher e pol i t i cs and por t ent s are mer ged
t oget her. That i mpl i es t hat Ma r k' s cos mol ogy i s al l at once soci al , rel i gi ous and
pol i t i cal .
4
'THE HEAVENS OPENED': COSMOLOGICAL AND
THEOLOGICAL TRANSFORMATION IN LUKE AND ACTS
St e v e Wa l t o n
In Luke' s story, bot h heaven and eart h are t r ansf or med t hr ough Jesus and by t he
Spirit. Thi s pr oces s of t r ansf or mat i on affects even how God i s t o be seen and
under st ood, for t her e i s n ow a huma n bei ng in heaven at God' s right hand - and
he pour s out t he Spi ri t upon God' s peopl e t o equi p t hem t o r ecl ai m creat i on for
its Creat or.
Luke' s Gos pel and Act s are uni que i n t wo i mpor t ant r espect s for t hi s st udy.
Fi rst , Luke
1
al one of t he Evangel i st s pr ovi des a ' vol ume t wo ' t el l i ng t he st ory
of t he est abl i shment of t he earl i est Chri st i an communi t i es . Thi s al l ows us t o see
how t he r emar kabl e i nt ervent i on of I sr ael ' s God in huma n hi st or y t hr ough Jesus
is pl ayed out a mong t hose wh o fol l ow Jesus. By wr i t i ng Act s , Luke por t r ays t he
uni versal cl ai ms of Jesus wi t h par t i cul ar clarity.
Second, Luke al one a mong t he NT wr i t er s narrat es t he ascensi on of Jesus,
and he does so t wi ce ( Luke 24; Act s 1). By cont rast wi t h angel s, wh o come
from heaven and ret urn t her e, Jesus i s a huma n bei ng wh o ent ers heaven. Jesus
bot h shares t he rul e of God over t he uni ver se and cont i nues t o i nt er vene i n t he
st ory of hi s f ol l owers, bot h i n hi s own per s on and by t he Spi ri t . I n pi er ci ng t he
barri er bet ween eart h and heaven, Jesus rest ruct ures how real i t y is under st ood,
bot h now and in t he days t o come.
To expl or e Luke' s engagement wi t h cosmol ogy, we shal l first r evi ew hi s
per spect i ve on t he key cosmol ogi cal t er ms and i deas whi ch he uses. We shal l
t hen focus on t he shift of per spect i ve whi ch t he ascensi on of Jesus br i ngs. Thi s
wi l l l ead i nt o di scussi on of t hose wh o i nvade t hi s r eal m of eart h from heaven,
not abl y angel s, t he Spi ri t and Jesus hi ms el f after hi s ascensi on, r epul si ng t he
occupyi ng forces of Sat an, demons , and uncl ean and evi l spi ri t s. Fi nal l y, we
shall consi der s ome key pas s ages in Act s wher e t here s eems t o be expl i ci t di a-
l ogue wi t h rival account s of cosmol ogy, part i cul arl y t hose whi ch cent r e on t he
Jer usal em Templ e, on pagani s m, or on t he r ol e of Caesar.
1. For the purpose of this study we make no assumption about the identity of the author of
Luke and Acts, other than his gender.
4. Luke-Acts 61
Naming Space(s): Key Terms
Luke uses o v p a v o s ( ' heaven' or ' s ky' ) 61 t i mes i n hi s t wo books . The Lukan
favouri t e U V | ; I OT OS ( ' hi ghes t ' ) can denot e t he heavenl y r eal m as wel l . Luke al so
has a number of uses of ?5TIS ' Ha de s ' ( 4 of 10 NT uses are i n Luke- Act s ) . By
cont rast , Luke does not us e t he K T I C D ( ' cr eat e' ) wor d gr oup at al l , and uses
Koopos ( ' wor l d' ) onl y four t i mes. Luke does use yTj, var i ousl y t ransl at ed as
' ear t h' , ' s oi l ' , ' l and' , 58 t i mes, not abl y for our pur pos e i n combi nat i ons wi t h
oupccvos. Thi s i mpr essi on is bor ne out by mor e det ai l ed exami nat i on. Thus
prima facie Luke s hows a st rong i nt erest in t he heavenl y r eal m and i t s i nt erac-
t i on wi t h t he eart hl y one.
Luke' s pr ef er ence for ' heaven and ear t h' l anguage over Koopos is r at her
unexpect ed gi ven t hat Luke is wr i t i ng i nt o a Gr aeco- Roman set t i ng, wher e
Koopos i s mor e c ommon t han ' heaven and ear t h' as a l abel for t he uni ver se.
Pl ausi bl y, t hi s is an exampl e of Luke i mi t at i ng t he LXX, wher e us age i s
si mi l ar.
2
Heaven/the Heavens* the Highest, and Hades
The l arge maj ori t y of Lukan uses of oupccvos occur i n preposi t i onal phr ases.
Lukan assumpt i on of an above/ bel ow met aphor for t he di vi si on of heaven
and eart h is seen i n t he expr essi on ' under heaven' (urrb T O V oupavov), i n each
us e suggest i ng uni versal i t y ( Lk. 17. 24; Act s 2. 5; 4. 12) .
Li kewi se, movement ' i nt o heaven' (sis T O V oupavov) i s upwar ds i n rel at i on
t o eart h, especi al l y i n J es us ' ascensi on (Lk. 24. 51; Act s 1.9-11). Pet er cont rast s
Jesus wi t h Davi d, wh o di d not as cend (ccvePrj) t here ( Act s 2. 34) . Jesus i s n ow
in an exal t ed posi t i on of power i n t he r eal m of God (cf. Act s 3. 21; 7. 56) .
4
The
angel s depar t i nt o heaven ( Lk. 2. 15) , and t he sheet i n Pet er ' s vi si on i s t aken up
i nt o heaven ( Act s 10. 16; 11. 10). The above/ bel ow met aphor is expr essed i n
rel at i on t o pr ayer i n t he t ax col l ect or wh o wi l l not lift hi s eyes sis T O V oupavov
( Lk. 18. 13) and Jesus l ooki ng up (ccva|3AEv|/as) i nt o heaven whe n he gi ves
2. As a rough and ready measure, (he 71 L X X uses of K O O U O S are completely outweighed by
621 uses of oupccvos and 3043 uses of yf|. I am grateful to Dr Jonathan Pennington for suggest-
ing the link with the L X X to me.
3. I have excluded uses of oupccvos for 'sky' or 'air' (such as TOC TT TEIVCC T O U oupccvou 'the
birds of the air', found five times in Luke-Acts), but have focused on those of greater cosmologi-
cal and theological significance.
4. It is hard to accept Strelan's antithesis concerning the three-fold use of eis T O V oupavov
in 1.10-11: 'This is not a spatial or locative description; it means that Jesus now participates in the
rule of God'. R. Strelan, Strange Acts: Studies in the Cultural World of the Acts of the Apostles
(BZNW 126; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2004), p. 39. Why can location not be the denotation and rule
the connotation of the expression?
62 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
t hanks ( Lk. 9. 16) . I n t hese cases ' heaven' st ands for t he r eal m of God, as it does
i n t he pr odi gal s on' s affi rmat i on t hat he has si nned ' agai nst heaven' ( Lk. 15. 18,
21) , and i n St ephen seei ng ' i nt o heaven' ( Act s 7. 55).
The expr essi on ' f r om heaven' ( E K T O U oupocvou, E oupccvou or CCTTO T O U
oupccvou) i ndi cat es i nt er vent i on from t hat r eal m i nt o t he eart hl y. Of t en t hi s is
posi t i ve i nt er vent i on from t he di vi ne r eal m i n t he f or m of s ound ( Lk. 3. 22; Act s
2. 2; 11.9) or si ght ( Act s 9. 3; 11. 5; 22. 6) or great si gns ( Lk. 21. 11) . However ,
j udgement i n t he f or m of fire can c ome from heaven ( Lk. 9. 54; 17. 29), and
Sat an fell from heaven ( Lk. 10. 18). As previ ousl y, ' heaven' is t he di vi ne r eal m,
wher e t he Fat her i s ( Lk. 11. 13; cf. 20. 4) .
By cont rast wi t h t hese pr esent - or i ent ed expr essi ons, E V T G O oupccvcd, ' i n
heaven' is oft en us ed i n fut ure set t i ngs. Thos e wh o fol l ow J es us wi l l r ecei ve
a r ewar d or t r easur e i n heaven ( Lk. 6. 23; 12. 23; 18. 22), and t hei r names are
wr i t t en i n heaven ( Lk. 10. 20). Ther e i s rej oi ci ng i n heaven wh e n si nners r epent
(Lk. 15. 7; cf. 15. 10) . Rej oi ci ng happens E V inpiaTOis ' i n t he hi ghes t ' (Lk. 2. 15;
19. 38). Heaven is al so a pl ace of peace and gl ory ( Lk. 19. 38).
Heaven, however , is not t o be at t ai ned easi l y: Caper naum wi l l not be exal t ed
t o heaven ( E G O S oupccvou), but br ought down t o Hades ( Lk. 10. 15). Hades is
a r eal m of pai n and sufferi ng ( Lk. 16. 23; al t hough a par abl e, t hi s dr aws on
popul ar as s umpt i ons about t he nat ur e of t he aft er-l i fe
5
). Ps . 15. 10 LXX ( MT
16. 10) is quot ed i n Act s 2. 27, 3 1 , and r ead as a pr ophecy of t he Mes s i ah not
bei ng abandoned t o Hades . I n ment i oni ng Hades , Luke ma y n o w be us i ng a
' t hr ee- decker ' mode l of t he uni ver se, wi t h eart h i n t he mi ddl e, heaven ' a bove '
and Hades ' b e l ow' .
6
Mos t st ri ki ng for our st udy ar e us es of oupccvos as cl osed or open. Jesus
speaks of t he f ami ne i n El i j ah' s t i me i n whi ch ' t he heaven wa s cl osed ( E K A E I O O T )
b oupccvos) for t hr ee year s and si x mont hs ' (Lk. 4. 25) . The cl osur e of heaven
i s cl earl y a r ef er ence t o t he l ack of r ai n from t he sky, but pr obabl y al so i mpl i es
t hat God had ceas ed t o car e for t he peopl e of Israel becaus e of Aha b' s si n and
t hei r i dol at ry.
7
Conver sel y, t o speak of heaven as open i ndi cat es t hat i nt ercourse
bet ween Go d and eart hl y bei ngs is t aki ng pl ace - i ndeed ' I s a w heaven opened'
is a st andar d apocal ypt i c f or mul a for God r eveal i ng hi msel f.
8
Jesus has a vi si on
of heaven opened at hi s bapt i s m ( Lk. 3. 21); St ephen sees t he heavens opened as
he is bei ng st oned and r ecogni zes t he exal t ed Jesus i n heaven ( Act s 7. 56) ; and
5. J. Nolland, Luke (WBC 35; Dallas: Word, 1989-93), 2:557.
6. Cf. Leslie Houlden, 'Beyond Belief: Preaching the Ascension', Theology 94 (1991), 173-80
(177).
7. I. H. Marshall, The Gospel of Luke (NIGTC; Exeter: Paternoster, 1978), p. 188.
8. E.g. Ezek. 1.1 L X X ; John 1.51; Rev. 19.11. See the surveys of Jewish apocalyptic in
M. N. A. Bockmuehl, Revelation and Mystery in Ancient Judaism and Pauline Christianity
(WUNT 2/36; Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1990); and Christopher Rowland, The Open Heaven: A
Study of Apocalyptic in Judaism and Early Christianity (London: SPCK, 1982).
4. Luke-Acts 63
Pet er sees heaven opened wh e n he has t he vi si on of t he sheet ( Act s 10. 11). Thi s
l anguage is hi ghl y suggest i ve, for it i ndi cat es t hat God is communi cat i ng wi t h
hi s creat i on, bot h wi t h Jesus whi l e he i s on eart h and, after hi s ascensi on, wi t h
J es us ' f ol l owers.
Earth,
9
the World
A number of t i mes t he pai r ' heaven and ear t h' expr esses t he t ot al i t y of exi st ence.
God ma de t hem and is t hei r Lor d ( Act s 4. 24; 14. 15; 17. 24). Heaven i s God' s
t hr one and eart h hi s foot st ool ( Act s 7. 49, quot i ng Isa. 66. 1) . In an i nt ri gui ng
pai r of sayi ngs, Jesus assert s t hat it i s easi er for heaven and eart h t o pas s away
t han for t he smal l est char act er t o b e dr opped from t he l aw ( Lk. 16. 17) , and yet
says t hat heaven and eart h will pas s away, but hi s wor ds wi l l not ( Lk. 21. 33) .
Heaven and eart h cl earl y pos s es s a cert ai n durabi l i t y, but not great er durabi l i t y
t han J es us ' t eachi ng! Luke t hus hi nt s at t he comi ng r enewal of t he uni ver se.
El s ewher e heaven and ear t h st and i n cont rast : t he sheet Pet er sees i s let down
from heaven t o eart h ( Act s 10. 11) and, suggest i vel y, Saul falls t o t he ear t h after
t he l i ght from heaven shi nes ar ound hi m ( Act s 9. 3-4). Her e t he superi ori t y of
t he r eal m of God is assert ed over t he human, eart hl y r eal m.
Whe r e y?| occur s wi t hout o u p a v o s it is us ed t o speak of life her e and n o w
by i mpl i ci t cont rast wi t h life i n heaven (e. g. Act s 8. 33 [ quot i ng Isa. 53. 8 LXX];
22. 22) . Thus J es us ' bi rt h br i ngs peace upon eart h ( Lk. 2. 14) and he has aut hor-
i t y on ear t h ( Lk. 5. 24). The fixture of whi ch he war ns wi l l i ncl ude di st ress and
sufferi ng on eart h ( Lk. 2 1 . 2 3 , 2 5 , 3 5 ) , and hi s own mi ni st r y wi l l br i ng fire rat her
t han peace ( Lk. 12. 49, 51) . I n Act s t he expr essi on ecos E OX C C T OU T T J S yfj s ' t o
t he end of ear t h' , der i ved from Isa. 49. 6, is a keynot e for t he br eadt h of t he
bel i ever s ' mi s s i on ( Act s 1.8), a mi s s i on whi ch t hey gr adual l y c ome t o see
i ncl udes Gent i l es ( Act s 13. 47) - t hus, al l t he ear t h' s fami l i es wi l l be bl essed
( Act s 3. 25, echoi ng Gen. 12. 3).
The Universe as Gods Creation
Luke does not us e t he K T I C Q ' cr eat e' wor d gr oup at all, but t he i dea of t he
uni ver se as God' s cr eat i on is cl ear, part i cul arl y wher e bel i evers are encount er -
i ng pagans . I n At hens , Paul pr esent s God as t he one ' wh o ma de ( b TTOirjaas)
heaven and ear t h' and wh o (i n cons equence) is ' Lor d of heaven and ear t h' ( Act s
17. 24). Thi s God is no dei st i c wat chmaker , for he cont i nues t o gi ve TTOCOI cor|v
Kai Trvorjv Kai T C C rravTa ' t o all peopl e life and br eat h and al l t hi ngs ' (v. 25) ,
and ( quot i ng a pagan poet ) ' i n hi m we l i ve and mov e and exi st ' (v. 28) . Luke
al so pr esent s Jesus as referri ng t o God' s ki ndl y pr ovi dence t owar d t he bi r ds and
9. I exclude here uses of yr] for 'soil', 'land' (i.e., a country) or 'land' (by contrast with sea
or lake); these account for about 25 uses from a total of 58 in Luke-Acts.
64 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
t he flowers of t he field and t hus , a fortiori, for peopl e ma de i n hi s i mage ( Lk.
12. 24-28).
Thi s t heme can al so be seen i n St ephen' s speech (Act s 7. 50, quot i ng Isa. 66. 2),
wher e God' s ' ha nd' i s s ynecdoche for God hi msel f - hi s powe r i n part i cul ar;
in t he pr ayer of t he bel i ever s ( Act s 4. 24) ; and i n Paul ' s wor ds i n Lyst ra ( Act s
14. 24) .
1 0
In t he l at t er t wo cases, t he s equence ' t he heaven and t he eart h and t he
sea and ever yt hi ng i n t he m' f ol l ows t hat i n t he creat i on st ory of Gen. 1. 1- 2. 3,
furt her under l i ni ng t he cl ai m t hat t he God of t he bel i ever s i s t he Creat or. God' s
creat i on of t he uni ver se i s al so hi nt ed at i n t he i dea of ' t he f oundat i on of t he
wor l d' ( Lk. 11. 50), whi ch pr es uppos es a begi nni ng, al t hough hi nt s of creat i on
i n Luke' s Gos pel ar e r ar e - it is onl y i n t he wi der mi ssi on i n Act s t hat t hi s t heme
becomes expl i ci t .
1 1
Changing Space(s): the Ascension
11
Luke al one nar r at es J es us ' ascensi on, and does so t wi ce ( Lk. 24. 50- 53; Act s
1.6-11); ot her NT aut hor s as s ume its exi st ence or spel l out its si gni f i cance.
1 3
Luke' s doubl e t el l i ng s hows t he i mpor t ance of t he ascensi on, whi ch pr ovi des
t he basi s for muc h t hat f ol l ows i n Act s , as wel l as bei ng t he appr opr i at e cl i max
t o t he Gos pel ' s st or y.
1 4
It mar ks J es us ' st eppi ng from t he r eal m of eart h i nt o
heaven, from whence he cont i nues t o act ; i t mar ks a wat er s hed i n hi s life and
i n t he wa y t he uni ver se i s seen and exper i enced. Becaus e t he ascensi on i s so
significant for t he cos mol ogy of Luke - Ac t s , we shal l focus on it first, and t hen
consi der h ow Luke' s Gos pel pr epar es for t hi s r emar kabl e event .
The ascensi on of Jesus mar ks t he cl ose of t he fort y-day per i od of r esur r ec-
t i on appear ances ( Act s 1.3), and vi vi dl y s hows t he ri sen Jesus ent er i ng heaven
( s i s T O V ou p a v ov , ' i nt o heaven' ) , an expr essi on whi ch occur s t hree t i mes i n
10. Both 4.24 and 14.15 echo L X X Exod. 20.11; Neh. 9.6; Ps. 145.6 [MT 146.6]; Isa. 37.16,
while not being an exact quotation of any of them.
11. It is also worth observing that, while God's fatherhood is linked in the OT and Second
Temple Jewish writings with creation, this link is not made in Luke-Acts. For references and
discussion, see D. G. Chen, God as Father in Luke-Acts (StBibL 92; Frankfurt am Main: Peter
Lang, 2006), pp. 84-5,136-7.
12. A number of significant issues concerning the ascension, including its historicity, are
beyond the scope of this limited study. Significant studies include: Strelan, Strange, pp. 33-49;
A. W. Zwiep, The Ascension of the Messiah in Lukan Christology (NovTSup 87; Leiden: Brill,
1997); M. C. Parsons, The Departure of Jesus in Luke-Acts: The Ascension Narratives in Context
(JSNTSup 21; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1987), with useful review of previous work on pp. 14-18;
G. Lohfink, Die Himmelfahrt Jesu: Untersuchungen zu den Himmelfahrts- und Erhohungstexten
heiLukas (SANT 26; Munchen: K6sel, 1971).
13. See Douglas Farrow, Ascension andEcclesia: On the Significance of the Doctrine of the
Ascension for Ecclesiology and Christian Cosmology (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1999), pp. 15-40,
275-80; T. F. Torrance, Space, Time, and Resurrection (Edinburgh: Handsel, 1976), pp. 106-22.
14. Cf. Eric Franklin, Christ the Lord (London: SPCK, 1975), p. 35.
4. Luke-Acts 65
Act s 1. 10-11. Lk. 24. 50- 53 appear s t o rel at e t he s ame event , but wi t h n o t i me
frame pr ovi ded: v. 50 i s l i nked t o v. 4 9 onl y by t he vague 5s. Thi s account
cont ai ns t he s ame not e of Jesus ent er i ng heaven (v. 51) . It i s beyond t he scope
of t hi s essay t o debat e t he pr eci se rel at i onshi p of resurrect i on and ascensi on;
t he vi ew t aken her e i s t hat t he r esur r ect i on and ascensi on, al t hough t hey shoul d
be seen t oget her, are di st i nct mome nt s i n t he pr ocess of J es us ' exal t at i on t o
God' s right ha nd.
1 5
The ascensi on ma y t hen be seen as t he cul mi nat i on of t he
pr ocess of J es us ' exal t at i on and t he poi nt at whi ch Jesus i s vi sual l y exal t ed t o
heaven, t her eby pr ovi di ng t he di sci pl es wi t h a vi sual demonst r at i on of t he t rut h
of J es us ' exal t ed st at us. Hence, Act s 1.9-10 uses a rich vi sual vocabul ar y whi ch
st resses t he real i t y of t he event , for t he t er ms us ed are not vi si onar y or dr eam
l anguage: P A E T T O V T C D V , T G D V cxj>9aApcov a u To v , C C T E V I ^ O V T E S ,
1 6
E P { 3 A E T T O V T E S ,
i BEaaaaSE.
What the Ascension Implies
Gi ven t he st ress Luke pl aces on t he ascensi on and heavenl y sessi on of Jesus,
what i nt ersect i on does i t have wi t h cosmol ogi cal i ssues? At l east si x poi nt s
come t o mi nd.
Fi rst , t he ascensi on and exal t at i on of Jesus t o God' s right hand i mpl y t hat
he n o w r ei gns al ongsi de God from heaven; it i s n ow appr opr i at e t o cal l hi m
Kuptos ( ' Lor d' ) as wel l as Xp i o x o s ( ' Mes s i ah' ) , for God hi ms el f has done so
i n exal t i ng Jesus t o hi s right hand ( Act s 2. 36). Hi s ascensi on is ' i nt o heaven'
( Lk. 24. 51; Act s 1. 10, 11). The account of t he ascensi on i s br ought t o a cl ose for
t he di sci pl es by a cl oud ( Act s 1.9), a cl oud whi ch echoes t he si ngul ar cl oud of
Lk. 21. 27 upon whi ch t he son of ma n comes (cont rast Mk 13. 26; Mt . 24. 29) . It
t herefore appear s t hat Luke i nt ends an echo of Lk. 21. 27 i n Act s 1.9, and t her eby
makes a connect i on t o Dan. 7. 13 concer ni ng t he Son of Ma n wh o comes t o t he
15. See the helpful summaries in Kevin L. Anderson, 'But God Raised Him from the Dead':
The Theology of Jesus 'Resurrection in Luke-Acts (PBM; Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2006), pp.
6-10,41-7; R. F. O'Toole, 'Luke's Understanding of Jesus* ResuiTectic^-Ascension-Exaltation',
BTB 9 (1979), 106-14.1 share the view of Anderson and P. A. Van Stempvoort, 'The Interpreta-
tion of the Ascension in Luke and Acts', NTS 5 (1958-59), 30-42, contra Lohfink, Himmelfahrt,
pp. 80-98, 270; J. A. Fitzmyer, 'The Ascension of Christ and Pentecost* in J. A. Fitzmyer, To
Advance the Gospel: New Testament Studies (2nd edn; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), pp.
265-94, esp. 265-77; Zwiep, Ascension.
16. Strelan, Strange, pp. 38-9 unconvincingly seeks to argue that c c T ev i ^ovrcs implies
entering into a trance-like state, which is unlikely - the verb here (as elsewhere) denotes intent
looking or staring at something or someone (BDAG, 148). Even if Strelan were correct about
aTevi ovres, Luke has used numerous other visual words which carry no such implication; cf.
C. K Barrett, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (2 vols; ICC;
Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1994, 1998), 1.81 on PXETTOVTCOV, whose use 'places the Ascension in
the same category of events as any other happening in the story of Jesus'.
66 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
Mos t Hi gh on t he cl ouds. The pr omi nent us e of a cl oud i n t he t ransfi gurat i on
(t hree t i mes i n Lk. 9. 34- 35) furt her rei nf orces t he l i kel i hood t hat t he ascensi on
cl oud connot es God' s pr es ence and gl or y.
1 7
Al ongs i de t hese l i nks, Luke expl i ci t l y st at es t hat , after J es us ascended, ' t hey
wor s hi pped h i m' ( Lk. 24. 52) . Si nce for J ews wor s hi p is t o be gi ven t o God
al one, Jesus is her e bei ng pl aced al ongs i de YHWH as an obj ect of wor s hi p.
1 8
Hi s ent r y i nt o heaven i s t hus di fferent from t hose of El i j ah or Enoch, for hi s
ent ry f ol l ows hi s r es ur r ect i on.
1 9
Thus , t he wa y ' God' is under s t ood changes:
the way that Luke narrates the ascension of an eschatologically transformed, fleshly
human being inevitably alters the life of... God and forever breaks the bounds of any
cosmology, ancient or modern, that portrays the gap that needs overcoming between
God and humanity as primarily ontological rather than hamartiological.
20
Second, t he t wo whi t e- r obed i nt erpret ers t el l t he di sci pl es t hat J es us ' ascen-
si on pr esages hi s ret urn from heaven t o eart h ( Act s l . l l ) .
2 1
Thi s ret urn t o eart h
wi l l be t he t i me of cos mi c r enewal and rest orat i on pr omi s ed i n Scri pt ure ( Act s
3. 20- 21) as wel l as of j udgement ( Act s 17. 31). The cl oud al so be c a me embl em-
at i c of t he r et ur n of Jesus, as he wa s t o c ome from t he pr es ence of God whi ch
t he cl oud symbol i zes (cf. 1 Thess. 4. 17; Rev. 1.7; 14. 14- 16) . It is possi bl e t hat
t hi s par ous i a s ymbol i s m ma y have furt her encour aged Luke t o r epor t t he cl oud
as envel opi ng Jesus.
Thi r d, heaven' s gift, t he Hol y Spi ri t , flows from J es us ' exal t at i on t o God' s
ri ght hand ( Act s 2. 33) . Heaven i s open ( Act s 2. 2 speaks of a s ound comi ng
' f r om heaven' ) and t he Spi ri t is pour ed upon God' s peopl e as a resul t of J es us '
exal t at i on, whi ch i t sel f mar ks hi m as Lor d of t he Spi ri t ( Act s 2. 36) .
2 2
The futur-
istic pr esent C C T T O O T S A A C O ( Lk. 24. 49) and t he emphat i c eyeb s how t hat Jesus
hi msel f wi l l send t he Hol y Spi ri t as ' power from on hi gh' (cf. Act s 1.5). The
17. Cf. the thoughtful argument of Strelan (Strange, p. 36) for early Christian appropriation of
Pss. 8,46 to connect Jesus' exaltation with reigning, as well as his helpful tracing of references to
clouds connoting God's presence (pp. 37-8).
18. Larry W. Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity (Grand
Rapids/Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2003), p. 345.
19. This is the diametrical opposite of the puzzling view of Franklin, Christ, p. 35, that it
was the ascension rather than the resurrection which marked Jesus out as 'other than one of the
prophets'.
20. A. Johnson, 'Resurrection, Ascension and the Developing Portrait of the God of Israel
in Acts', SJT 57 (2004), 146-62 (147); see also D. Buckwalter, The Character and Purpose
of Lukes Christology (SNTSMS 89; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), esp. pp.
180-92.
21. Torrance, Resurrection, pp. 150-8.
22. M. Turner, Power from on High: The Spirit in Israel's Restoration and Witness in Luke-
Acts (JPTSup, 9; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996), p. 278; M. Turner, ' *Trimtarian
,,
Pneumatology in the New Testament? - Towards an Explanation of the Worship of Jesus', AsTJ
57 (2003), 167-86 (178); Buckwalter, Character, pp. 194-6.
4 . Luke-Acts 67
Spi ri t her e and i n Act s 2. 33- 36 i s t he execut i ve power of t he exal t ed Jesus, by
whi ch he exer ci ses hi s sover ei gnt y over t he wor l d.
2 3
Thi s s ame Spi ri t wi l l be
t he means of empower i ng t he bel i ever s for t he t ask of cal l i ng creat i on back t o
God as t hey wi t nes s t o Jesus ( Act s 1. 8),
2 4
i n pr epar at i on for t he day of J es us '
ret urn.
Four t h, t he heavenl y Jesus wi l l we l c ome and r ecei ve bel i ever s. Thi s s eems
t o be t he si gni fi cance of t he appear ance of Jesus t o St ephen ( Act s 7. 55- 56) .
Jesus is na me d as ' t he son of ma n ' (v. 56) , uni quel y out si de t he Gos pel s . He has
fulfilled Dan. 7. 13 and t herefore has r ecei ved t he uni ver sal j ur i sdi ct i on gi ven
t o t he son of man. St ephen' s mur der er s r ecogni ze t hi s (t o t hem) bl as phemous
cl ai m by refusi ng t o hear it furt her and by st oni ng St ephen ( w. 57- 58) . Dani el
7 wa s , of cour se, addr essed t o a mar t yr cont ext of t he peopl e of God sufferi ng
agai nst t he pagans , por t r ayed as wi l d beast s ( w. 2- 8) , i mmedi at el y bef or e t he
Anci ent of Days ent ers t he scene t o find i n f avour of hi s peopl e.
2 5
It i s t hus
part i cul arl y appr opr i at e t hat Dani el 7 i s al l uded t o he r e .
2 6
Fifth, St ephen pr ovi des an exampl e of a wi der cat egor y of J es us ' appear -
ances and act i ons from heaven. Thes e flow from J es us ' rol e at God' s ri ght hand
as God' s ' chi ef execut i ve agent ' - Luke has no ' abs ent ee chr i s t ol ogy' .
2 7
Hence
Jesus appear s from heaven t o Saul of Tarsus on t he r oad t o Damas cus and exer-
ci ses hi s power by st ri ki ng hi m bl i nd ( Act s 9. 8). Jesus is not absent from eart h,
for he is i dent i fi ed wi t h t he bel i ever s wh o m Saul is per secut i ng - t o per secut e
t hem is t o per secut e Jesus hi ms el f ( Act s 9. 5). The Jesus wh o r ei gns wi t h t he
Fat her is al so t he Jesus wh o suffers wi t h hi s peopl e, t her eby shar i ng God' s own
abi l i t y t o be pr esent i n ma n y l ocat i ons at once - and t hi s i l l ust rat es our huma n
difficulty wi t h us i ng t he l anguage of ' pr es ence' and ' abs ence' i n rel at i on t o t he
exal t ed J es us .
2 8
Not onl y does Jesus meet Saul di rect l y, but he goes on t o pr epar e for Saul ' s
i nt egrat i on i nt o t he bel i evi ng communi t y by speaki ng t o Anani as ( Act s 9. 10- 16) .
23. See, much more fully, Turner, Power, pp. 290-315.
24. I here take 'the end of the earth' as a reference to 'everywhere', in tune with the echo of
Isa. 49.6, with, inter alia, L. T. Johnson, The Acts of the Apostles (SP 5; Collegeville: Liturgical
Press, 1992), pp. 26-7. Note also that the crowd at Pentecost come 'from every nation under
heaven' (Acts 2.5) - while all of these are Jews, the choice of term hints at the universality of the
concerns of God.
25. N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God (London: SPCK, 1992), pp.
291-7.
26. C. F. D. Moule, The Origin of Christology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1977), p. 17.
27. See Turner, Power, pp. 295-6 for the point and the specific phrases, contra (famously)
H. Conzelmann, The Theology of St Luke (London: Faber & Faber, 1960), passim, esp. p. 204.
28. I owe this point to an unpublished paper presented by Prof. Beverly Gaventa to the Book
of Acts Section at the SBL Annual Meeting of November 2003; I gratefully acknowledge her
kindness in providing me with a copy.
68 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
The exal t ed Jesus st age- manages event s t o hi s own ends, and t hus exerci ses hi s
sover ei gnt y over t he uni ver se. Si mi l arl y, it i s Jesus wh o pour s out t he Spi ri t
( Act s 2. 33) . It i s Jesus wh o heal s Aeneas ( Act s 9. 34) and, whe n ot her heal i ngs
t ake pl ace i n t he n a me of Jesus, t he na me st ands for hi s per s on t oo (e. g. Act s
3. 6, 16; 4. 7, 17, 3 0 )
2 9
and s hows hi s pr esent , eart hl y exer ci se of power : ' Wha t
bel i ever s do i n J es us ' n a me is i n effect bei ng done by Jesus h i ms e l f .
3 0
That
power is al so seen in del i ver ance from evi l spi ri t s ( Act s 16. 18 and, comi cal l y,
19. 13, 17) .
3 1
I ndeed, s o power f ul i s J es us ' na me t hat it is t he uni que and sol e
i nst r ument of sal vat i on ( Act s 4. 12) , so t hat ne w bel i ever s ar e bapt i zed i nt o
J es us ' na me ( Act s 2. 38; cf. 10. 43; 22. 16) and pr ocl amat i on of t he mes s age is
pr ocl amat i on of t he n a me of Jesus ( Act s 9. 15, 27, 28) . Prayer, t oo, i s cal l i ng
upon t he na me of Jesus ( Act s 9. 14, 21) .
Si xt h, t he ascensi on of Jesus, hi s pi er ci ng t he barri er bet ween eart h and
heaven, means t hat heaven i s open t o eart h. To be sur e, heaven has been i nvad-
i ng eart h in and t hr ough t he mi ni st r y of t he eart hl y Jesus, but t he flurry of
angel i c act i vi t y i n t he ear l y chapt er s of Act s i s unpr ecedent ed, di rect i ng, savi ng
and embol deni ng bel i ever s and br i ngi ng God' s j udgement t o Her od ( Act s
1. 10-11; 5. 19; 8. 26; 10. 3; 12. 7- 11, 2 3 ; cf. 27. 23- 24) . The r epeat ed comi ng and
act i on of t he Hol y Spi ri t is a furt her i mpor t ant i nst ance of heaven i nvadi ng eart h
(e. g. Act s 2. 1- 4; 4. 8, 3 1 ; 6. 10; 7. 55; 8. 17; 9. 17; 10. 44; 11. 28; 13. 2, 9, 52) , as
are t he heal i ngs and exor ci sms whi ch t ake pl ace. The exor ci s ms , i n part i cul ar,
dr i ve back t he occupyi ng forces of evi l and free peopl e from bondage t o bel ong
t o God' s peopl e (e. g. Act s 5. 16; 8. 7; 16. 16- 18; 19. 12). ' Si gns and wonde r s '
occur at t he beachheads of t he i nvasi on (e. g. Act s 2 . 2 2 , 4 3 ; 4. 30; 5. 12; 6. 8; 14. 3;
15. 12). Thos e wh o out war dl y j oi n God' s r enewed peopl e, but wh o l i e t o t he
heavenl y Spi ri t , ar e j udge d ( Act s 5. 1-11). Furt her, God' s wor d is an act i ve agent
wi t hi n t he mi s s i on of God ( Act s 6. 7; 12. 24; 13. 48- 49; 20. 32) ,
3 2
and act s as a
further agent of God' s heavenl y i nvasi on of eart h (cf. Isa. 55. 10- 11) . I n cont rast
wi t h pr evi ous t i mes, bot h i n t he OT and i n t he mi ni st r y of Jesus, heaven i s n ow
' open for bus i nes s ' on a per manent basi s.
Space Invaders: Heaven Coming to Earth
We have di scover ed t hus far t hat t he exal t at i on of Jesus, vi sual l y r epr esent ed
and cul mi nat ed i n t he ascensi on, i ni t i at es a ne w chapt er i n t he life of heaven and
eart h. Ther e i s n o w a huma n bei ng r ei gni ng al ongsi de God, and eart h is open t o
heaven in a fresh way. Ho w far does Luke' s Gos pel pr epar e for t hi s?
29. J. A. Ziesler, 'The Name of Jesus in the Acts of the Apostles', JSNT 4 (1974), 28-41
(35-37).
30. Buckwalter, Character, p. 184; see pp. 182-4 for a helpful discussion.
31. J. Goldingay, 'Are They Comic Acts?', EvQ 69 (1997), 99-107 (102-104).
32. See the valuable discussion in D. W. Pao, Acts and the Isotonic New Exodus (Grand
Rapids: Baker Book House, 2002), pp. 160-7.
4. Luke-Acts 69
Th e t i me of J e s us ' bi r t h br i st l es wi t h di vi ne act i vi t y. Go d s ends angel s t o
announce bot h t he bi r t h of J ohn, t he f or er unner of J es us , and J es us hi ms el f
( Lk. 1. 11-20, 2 6 - 3 8 ; 2. 8- 14) . The Hol y Spi ri t i nspi r es s peech t o announce
wha t Go d i s n o w doi ng ( Lk. 1. 41-45, 6 7 - 7 9 ; 2. 25- 32) . Mos t not abl y of al l ,
t he Spi ri t caus es Ma r y t o b e c ome pr egnant ( Lk. 1. 35),
3 3
a fresh cr eat i ve act
whi c h refl ect s God' s des i r e t o i nt er vene a ne w i n hi s uni ver s e i n and t hr ough
J es us .
At J es us ' bapt i s m t he apocal ypt i c expr essi on avEcoxflrjvai T O V o u p a v o v
' t he heaven wa s opened' ( Lk. 3. 21) pr esages a significant di scl osur e from
God.
3 4
Her e, ' aft er a per i od of appar ent i nact i vi t y God hi msel f comes down
t o act i n p o we r ' .
3 5
J es us ' vi si on of t he Spi ri t ' s descent is i nt erpret ed by t he
heavenl y voi ce, echoi ng Ps . 2. 7 and Isa. 42. 1. Jesus is empower ed by t he Spi ri t
for hi s mes s i ani c t ask as ' gr eat Davi d' s great er s o n ' .
3 6
Luke r epeat edl y under -
l i nes J es us ' empower ment by t he Spi ri t , for Jesus r et ur ns from J or dan ' filled
wi t h t he Hol y Spi ri t ' and is t hen ' l ed by t he Spi ri t ' ( Lk. 4. 1) . Jesus emer ges
from t he t empt at i ons ' i n t he powe r of t he Spi ri t ' ( Lk. 4. 14) , and announces i n
Nazar et h t hat he i s t he one anoi nt ed wi t h t he Lor d' s Spi ri t for hi s mi s s i on ( Lk.
4. 18- 19, quot i ng Isa. 61. 1- 2; 58. 6) .
3 7
Thi s mi s s i on is God' s wor k t hr ough Jesus,
so t hat hi s exor ci s ms ar e t o be under s t ood as demonst r at i ng t he power of God
( Lk. 11. 20) - hi s mi ni st r y is pr ogr essi vel y br i ngi ng down Sat an' s empi r e ( Lk.
10. 18) .
3 8
J es us ' heal i ng mi ni st r y si mi l arl y rest ores peopl e t o full part i ci pat i on i n
t he peopl e of God, not abl y a ma n wi t h l eprosy ( Lk. 5. 12- 14) ; t he wo ma n wh o
wa s haemor r hagi ng for 12 year s ( Lk. 8. 43-48), wh o woul d be uncl ean becaus e
of her bl eedi ng; and t he wo ma n who had been bent over for 18 year s becaus e of
a spi ri t ( Lk. 13. 10- 17) , wh o m Jesus r egar ds as a ' daught er of Abr a ha m' (v. 16)
and t hus a me mbe r of God' s peopl e.
Not onl y i s Jesus hi ms el f empower ed by God t hr ough t he Spi ri t , but we
al r eady kn ow from J ohn t hat t he comi ng one i s al so t he one wh o bapt i zes wi t h
t he Hol y Spi ri t ( Lk. 3. 16) - Jesus i s t hus pi vot al t o God' s pur pos e t o open
33. With Turner, Power, pp. 155-60; contra R. P. Menzies, Empowered for Witness: The
Spirit in Luke-Acts (JPTSup 6; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994), pp. 111-16.
34. Cf. Acts 10.11; Jn 1.51; Rev. 4.1; 19.11; and Isa. 64.1; Ezek. 1.1; T Levi 2.6; 2 Bar. 22.1.
35. Marshall, Gospel, p. 152.
36. See discussion in Turner, Power, pp. 197-201, contra J. D. G. Dunn, Baptism in the Holy
Spirit (London: SCM/Philadelphia: Westminster, 1970), pp. 23-37; Menzies, Empowered, pp.
132-9.
37. Discussion in Turner, Power, pp. 213-64.
38. The image of Satan falling cos ocorpamiv I K T O U oupavov
4
as lightning from heaven'
likely continues an echo of Isaiah 14 found in Lk. 10.15. 10.15 applies the Isaianic imagery of
being exalted to heaven and being thrown down to Hades (Isa. 14.11,13-15) to Capernaum which
rejects Jesus. So L. T. Johnson, The Gospel of Luke (SP 3; Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1992),
p. 169; full discussion in S. R. Garrett, The Demise of the Devil: Magic and the Demonic in Luke's
Writings (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989), pp. 46-57.
70 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
heaven t o eart h afresh by enabl i ng t he Spi ri t t o come. Luke makes it cl ear t hat
he sees t he fulfilment of t hi s pr omi s e at Pent ecost by J es us ' st at ement t h a t
4
J ohn
bapt i zed wi t h wat er, but you wi l l be bapt i zed wi t h t he Hol y Spi ri t not ma ny
days from n o w' ( Act s 1.5). Thus t he begi nni ngs of J es us ' mi ni st r y poi nt forward
t o t he t i me whe n t he bel i ever s wi l l be equi pped t o serve God by cal l i ng all i n
cr eat i on back t o hi m.
Whe n we focus on J es us ' deat h and resurrect i on, non- ear t hl y bei ngs and
phenomena are agai n pr es ent .
3 9
The dar kness at t he cr oss (Lk. 23. 44- 45a) sug-
gest s t hat creat i on i s t ur ni ng its back on t he sufferi ng Mes s i ah, J es us .
4 0
Even
God i s t ur ni ng away from Jesus as he suffers, for dar kness symbol i zes bot h
God' s abs ence and t he pr es ence and domi nance of evi l , j us t as l i ght symbol i zes
God' s pr es ence.
4 1
In t he mi dst of t he dar kness t he Templ e curt ai n is t orn i n t wo (Lk. 23. 45b) .
Reader s frequently see t hi s i nci dent t hr ough t he eyes of Heb. 10. 20, whi ch
pi ct ur es Jesus openi ng a ne w wa y t o God t hr ough t he curt ai n, and t hus i nt erpret
t he t ear i ng of t he curt ai n as s ymbol i zi ng access t o God.
4 2
However , it s eems
l i kel y t hat t he t eari ng ma y r at her focus on t he empt i ness of t he Hol y of Hol i es,
t o demons t r at e t hat t hi s i s not wher e God is t o be f ound (cf. Ezek. 10; 2 Baruch
6. 7; 8. 2), and t hus t hi s event por t ends t he ul t i mat e dest r uct i on of t he Templ e.
4 3
Thi s l i kel i hood i s i ncr eased by t wo feat ures of Act s . Fi rst , St ephen' s speech
( Act s 7) is cri t i cal of t he el evat i on of t he Templ e as the pl ace wher e God i s
known, al t hough not of i t s f oundat i on or exi st ence. St ephen' s speech cl ai ms
t hat t he Templ e' s t i me is over, for God is act i ve and avai l abl e apart from t he
Templ e - he is not l i mi t ed t o t hi s par t i cul ar hol y space ( Act s 7 AS).
44
Second,
God ma ke s hi ms el f known t o peopl e i n Act s away from t he hol y space of t he
Templ e, such as i n t he desert t o a eunuch ( 8. 26- 40) , i n an uncl ean Gent i l e
hous ehol d i n J oppa ( 10. 1- 48) , and i n ma n y pl aces out si de t he l and of Pal est i ne
dur i ng Paul ' s t r avel s .
4 5
The Templ e, whos e dest ruct i on Jesus has pr ophes i ed
39. It is textually unlikely that the angel in Gethsemane (Lk. 22.43-44) is original (TCGNT,
p. 151), so it is omitted from discussion here.
40. Cf. Josephus, Ant. 14.12.3 309, a comment from a letter of Mark Antony to Hyrcanus
concerning his opponents in battle: 'the sun turned away his light from us, as unwilling to view
the horrid crime they were guilty of in the case of Caesar'.
41. Cf. Lk. 22.53 and note the contrast with Lk. 1.79, where Jesus' birth is depicted as the
dawn rising (so R. E. Brown, The Death of the Messiah [ABRL London: Geoffrey Chapman,
1994], 2:1042); cf. J. A. Fitzmyer, Luke (AB 28; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1981, 1985),
2:1518-19; Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke (NICNT; Grand Rapids/Cambridge: Eerdmans,
1997), p. 825.
42. See the useful enumeration of possibilities in Nolland, Luke, 3:1157.
43. Marshall, Gospel, p. 875; Brown, Death, 2:1101-06.
44. S. Walton, 'A Tale of Two Perspectives? The Temple in Acts', in T. Desmond Alexander
and S. J. Gathercole (eds.), Heaven on Earth: The Temple in Biblical Theology (Carlisle: Pater-
noster, 2004), pp. 135-49 (138-43).
45. Walton, 'Tale', pp. 146-8.
4. Luke-Acts 71
(Lk. 21. 6) , becomes funct i onal l y r edundant , for access t o God i s t hr ough Jesus
and by t he Spi r i t .
4 6
At t he t omb of Jesus, t he wo me n meet t wo me n i n dazzl i ng cl ot hes, wh o are
angel s and announce J es us ' r esur r ect i on ( Lk. 24. 4- 5, 23) . Thes e angel s f or m an
inclusio wi t h t he angel s wh o announce J es us ' bi rt h i n Luke 1-2, and pr ovi de
heaven' s comment ar y on t he empt y t omb.
Luke' s Gos pel pr epar es for t he fuller pi ct ur e seen in Act s by por t r ayi ng
phenomena whi ch s how t hat heaven is ent er i ng t he eart hl y r eal m t o r ecl ai m
t he wor l d for its Creat or. The angel s wh o sur r ound t he begi nni ng and end of
J es us ' mi ni st r y wi l l be act i ve i n t he chur ch' s mi ni st ry. The s ame Spi ri t wh o
empower ed Jesus for hi s messi ani c t ask wi l l empower hi s f ol l owers for t hei r
mi ssi onar y t ask. The cosmol ogi cal change of J es us ' pr esence i n heaven at God' s
right hand pr oduces a t heol ogi cal change i n h ow God is t o be seen, under s t ood
and known - it i s n ow t hr ough Jesus and by t he Spi ri t t hat he i s t o be known,
and t hat by t he Gent i l es as wel l as t he J ews ( Act s 1.8).
Space(d) Out? Challenging Other Cosmologies
Fi nal l y, we briefly consi der s ome pl aces wher e t her e appear s t o be di al ogue
bet ween a Chri st i an cos mol ogy and ot her cosmol ogi es.
We have al r eady not i ced St ephen' s speech ( Act s 7) , for her e St ephen i mpl i c-
i t l y cri t i ques a cos mol ogy whi ch gi ves a uni que and speci al pl ace t o t he Jer usa-
l em Templ e as the eart hl y pl ace of access t o God. Inst ead, St ephen assert s, God
has ma de hi ms el f known i n pagan l ands (e. g. , w . 2, 9, 29- 34, 44) . He pr esent s
t he Templ e' s st at us as ambi guous , i n t une wi t h t he ambi gui t y i n t he dedi cat i on
of t he Templ e (1 Kgs 8. 15- 53, esp. 27) .
4 7
Wh e n t he Sanhedr i n r es pond i n r age t o
t he suggest i on t hat t hey oppos e t he Hol y Spirit ( w. 51- 54) , St ephen' s vi si on of
Jesus, t he Son of Man, vi ndi cat ed and exal t ed t o God' s right hand ( w. 55- 56) ,
announces t hat it i s t hr ough Jesus t hat access t o God is n ow f ound - hence
St ephen' s pr ayer i s for Jesus t o r ecei ve hi m (v. 59) . The l at t er poi nt combi nes
t he cl ai ms t hat it i s Jesus wh o r ecei ves peopl e i nt o heaven - nor mal l y God' s
pr er ogat i ve - and t hat it is appr opr i at e t o pr ay t o Jesus, rat her t han God al one.
Second, t hi s cos mol ogy cri t i ques t he cl ai med pl ace of Caes ar i n t he Roma n
empi r e. Rat her t han Caes ar bei ng t he one wi t h uni versal j ur i sdi ct i on and wor t hy
of wor s hi p, Jesus shoul d r ecei ve t he hi ghest honour s .
4 8
Thi s t heme under l i es a
46. Cf. Green, Luke, pp. 825-6, who seeks to combine the best of both positions.
47. Walton, 'Tale', pp. 141-2.
48. E.g. Julius Caesar is described as 'the god made manifest
,
(SIG
3
760) and Claudius as
'god who is saviour and benefactor' (IGRR W 584); more fully, see the listing of evidence in
S. Walton, 'The State They Were In: Luke's View of the Roman Empire', in Peter Oakes (ed.),
Rome in the Bible and the Early Church (Carlisle: Paternoster/Grand Rapids: Baker Academic,
2002), pp. 1-^1 (26-8); Jacob Jervell, Die Apostelgeschichte (KEK, 17th edn; Gottingen: Van-
denhoeck & Ruprecht, 1998), p. 434 with n. 175.
72 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
number of event s and speeches i n Act s , not l east 17. 7, wher e Jesus i s r ecogni zed
as bei ng ' anot her ki ng' i n pl ace of Caesar.
Thi r d, t hi s cos mol ogy engages hi ghl y cri t i cal l y wi t h pagan cos mol ogi es
whi ch see a mul t i pl i ci t y of gods cont rol l i ng var i ous el ement s of t he uni ver se.
Paul engages i n Lyst ra wi t h uneducat ed pagans ( Act s 14. 11-18) and i n At hens
wi t h hi ghl y educat ed pagans ( Act s 17. 16-31) wh o hol d such vi ews . It i s inter-
est i ng t hat , i n Lyst ra, Paul does not speak expl i ci t l y of Jesus i n r es pons e t o t he
cr owds ' desi re t o offer sacrifice t o hi m and Bar nabas , al t hough our expect a-
t i on as Luke' s r eader s i s t hat whe n Paul speaks ( 14. 9) , it i s about Jesus. Paul
cri t i ques pagani s m by f ocusi ng on t he onenes s of t he t rue God as Cr eat or and
i mpl i ci t l y t hat he al one shoul d be wor s hi pped ( 14. 15- 17) .
I n At he ns ,
4 9
by cont rast , Paul expl i ci t l y speaks about Jesus and hi s r esur r ec-
t i on ( and t hus, pr esumabl y, hi s exal t at i on) , and t hi s pr ovokes t he i nvi t at i on t o
t he Ar eopagus ( 17. 18) .
5 0
Paul engages wi t h St oi cs and Epi cur eans ( 17. 18)
5 1
and
bot h hel d cos mol ogi es different t o t he Chri st i an one .
5 2
The St oi cs col l apsed god and t he uni ver se i nt o one i n pant hei st i c fashi on;
however , it s eems l i kel y t hat at l east s ome St oi c t hi nker s al so deified nat ural
forces: Jupi t er wa s t he sky- god, Nept une cont rol l ed t he sea, and so on. St oi cs
wer e mat eri al i st i c, and bel i eved t her e t o be no real r eal m out si de t he vi si bl e
uni ver se. They wer e hi ghl y det er mi ni st i c, and us ed augur y and har uspi cy t o
seek what t he gods wer e goi ng t o do, but di d not r egar d t he gods as per sonal l y
' knowabl e' by humans . Agai nst St oi ci sm, Paul i nsi st s t hat t he Cr eat or i s di st i nct
from hi s creat i on (v. 24) , and t hat God is knowabl e (v. 27) . And, r at her t han
t he gods havi ng cont r ol of part i cul ar el ement s or l ands, t he t r ue God al l ocat ed
wher e al l peopl es l i ved (v. 26) . It is a mi st ake t o i dent i fy el ement s wi t hi n cr e-
at i on for wor s hi p, for t hi s i s i dol at ry ( w . 24- 25, 28) .
5 3
Paul assert s firmly t hat
t he wa y t hat God is known is t hr ough Jesus, wh o m God has r ai sed from t he
49. For very useful discussions, see E. Schnabel, Early Christian Mission (Downers Grove:
Intervarsity Press, 2004), 2:1169-80; B. W. Winter, 'On Introducing Gods to Athens: An Alterna-
tive Reading of Acts 17:18-20', TynBul 47 (1996), 71-90.
50. If Winter's reconstruction is correct, the invitation was to offer grounds for building a
temple to Jesus in Athens (Winter, 'Gods', esp. pp. 71-80, 87-9). If so, Paul's speech is par-
ticularly acute, for he rejects the premise that gods require temples, and asserts that, rather than
humans building a temple for God, the one true God has created the world where he should be
worshipped.
51. See B. W. Winter, 'Introducing the Athenians to God: Paul's Failed Apologetic in Acts
17?', Them 31 (2005), 3&-59 (48-57).
52. For a helpful overview of the various positions held in the ancient world, see Cicero, Nat.
d., written around the middle of the first century BC, and identifying the Stoics, the Epicureans
and the sceptical Academicians. See also the summary essay by Edward Adams in this volume.
53. If Paul asserted this in Ephesus, it is easy to see why the silversmiths, who made souvenir
models of the temple of Artemis, would be upset (Acts 19.23-29)! It is possible that 'pure' Sto-
icism rejects idols; if so, Paul is critiquing a popularized version of Stoicism (although see Winter,
'Athenians', p. 54 for a contrary view).
4. Luke-Acts 73
dead and wh o wi l l be t he one wh o wi l l j udge al l on t he Da y (v. 31) . One can see
wh y St oi cs woul d be doubt ful of t he resurrect i on (v. 32a) , and al so wh y it is t he
cl i max and cent r epi ece of Paul ' s speech, for it is J es us ' exal t at i on by God whi ch
gi ves Jesus t he st at us and ri ght t o j udge.
The Epi cur eans shar ed t he St oi cs ' mat er i al i sm and rej ect ed i deas of life after
deat h. They por t r ayed t he gods i n huma n form si nce t hey bel i eved huma n form
t o be t he mos t beaut i ful . However , t he gods wer e uni nt er est ed i n huma n affairs,
so t her e wa s no poi nt i n offeri ng sacrifice, for t he gods woul d not i nvol ve t hem-
sel ves i n eart hl y life. Wor shi p wa s offered, but onl y t o change t he wor shi pper .
Agai ns t t hi s backcl ot h, Paul ar gues not onl y t hat God i s t he Creat or, but t hat he
desi r es t o know hi s cr eat ur es and be known by t hem ( w. 24, 27) . Whi l e Paul
makes c ommon gr ound wi t h t he Epi cur eans i n pr esent i ng God as not needi ng
huma ns (v. 25) , he is cri t i cal i n cl ai mi ng t hat God never t hel ess is i nt erest ed in
hi s cr eat i on and want s peopl e t o r es pond t o hi m t hr ough Jesus ( w. 30- 31) .
Paul ' s r esponse, after bui l di ng c ommon gr ound wi t h hi s i nt erl ocut ors, i s t o
focus on Jesus and hi s exal t at i on, vi a resurrect i on, t o t he pl ace of j udgement
over t he cos mos (v. 31) . As el s ewher e i n Act s , t he evangel i sm of t he earl i -
est bel i ever s cent res on h ow God is n o w knowabl e t hr ough Jesus. The r i sen
Jesus has as cended t o heaven t o r esi de at God' s ri ght hand, t hus t r ansf or mi ng
bot h cosmol ogi cal and t heol ogi cal per spect i ves: he i s n o w t he pat hway for hi s
peopl e t o j oi n hi m. Heaven i s i ndeed open - t o ever yone who comes t o God
t hr ough Jesus.
5
LIGHT OF THE WORLD:
COSMOLOGY AND THE JOHANNINE LITERATURE
E d wa r d W. K l i n k ffl
1. Introduction: The Light of the World
J ohn begi ns at t he begi nni ng of hi st or y and t i me itself, ' i n t he begi nni ng' . Thi s
phr as e i s mor e t han j us t an i nt er-t ext ual l i nk t o t he Genes i s nar r at i ve of t he Fi rst
Test ament , but l ocat es t he ent i re J ohanni ne nar r at i ve i n a cosmol ogi cal event
r oot ed i n t he begi nni ng of life, or as 1 J ohn decl ar es, t he ' wor d of l i fe' (1 J n 1.1).
The goal of t hi s chapt er is t o expl or e t he cos mol ogy of t he J ohanni ne l i t erat ure,
1
movi ng be yond an anal ysi s of t he t hemat i c- t heol ogi cal char act er of t he cos mi c
mot i f and i nt o t he cos mi c dr ama f oundat i onal t o t he J ohanni ne cor pus.
2. Cosmological Language in the Johannine Literature
Our st udy mus t begi n i n t he cos mol ogi cal l anguage i n t he J ohanni ne l i t era-
t ure. The l anguage t hat fits t hi s cri t eri on i s subj ect i ve as t o h ow it i s us ed and
concei ved wi t hi n t he document itself. Even mor e, t hi s defi ni t i on of l anguage
cannot be f orced ont o wor ds al one, but mus t rest on t he l arger st ruct ure of t he
document ( s ) . But it i s at t he l evel of wor ds t hat we mus t begi n.
2 . 1 . World
The wor d cos mos (Koopog) appear s 102 t i mes i n t he J ohanni ne l i t erat ure. The
wor d appear s i n t he Gos pel of J ohn 78 t i mes, over five t i mes mor e frequently
t han it does i n t he Synopt i cs ( 14) . Even mor e , t he frequency of us e i n onl y
t he Gos pel and Let t ers is t wo and one hal f t i mes t hat of t he ent i re r emai nder of
t he Ne w Tes t ament ( 184) .
2
Whi l e t he He br e w under s t andi ng of ' uni ver s e' i s
1. By 'Johannine literature' we mean the Gospel and the three Letters. Although Revelation
is traditionally considered to be Johannine, for the purpose of this volume it is being treated
separately. Thus, any statistic or reference to the Johannine literature excludes Revelation.
2. N. H. Cassem, 'A Grammatical and Contextual Inventory of the Use of Koapo<; in the
Johannine Corpus with Some Implications for Johannine Cosmic Theology', NTS 19 (1972),
84-91 (81).
5. Johannine Literature 75
t o be f ound i n t he wor ds ' heaven and ear t h' , Gr eek f ound i n cos mos a wor d ' t o
gi ve expr essi on t o t he Hel l eni c appr eci at i on of t he or der i n t he uni ve r s e ' .
3
I n
t hi s sense cos mos carri es t he connot at i on of t he physi cal uni ver se. J ohn cl earl y
under s t ands t hi s us age of cos mos , for i n Jn 17. 5 Jesus asks t he Fat her, ' gl ori fy
me i n your own pr es ence wi t h t he gl or y t hat I had i n your pr es ence bef or e t he
wor l d exi st ed' . Anot her exampl e is i n J n 21. 25 wher e t he fourt h evangel i st ends
t he Gos pel wi t h t he st at ement t hat ' t he wor l d i t sel f coul d not cont ai n t he books
t hat woul d be wr i t t en' . I n bot h t hese i nst ances cos mos is cert ai nl y cr eat i on, t he
physi cal uni ver se.
Cos mos need not be l i mi t ed t o t he physi cal uni ver se, however , for it can
al so refer t o t he uni ver se as a per sonal ent i t y, as is c ommon in J ewi s h l i t erat ure
( Gen. 1.26; Sir. 17. 2), or mor e di rect l y, t o humani t y as a gr oup. Thi s under -
st andi ng of cos mos is rel at i onal i n nat ur e. A cl ear exampl e of t hi s us age i s i n J n
1.10 wher e cos mos i s us ed 3 t i mes : ' He wa s i n t he wor l d, and t he wor l d came
i nt o bei ng t hr ough hi m; yet t he wor l d di d not kn ow h i m' . The first and s econd
i nst ances of cos mos refer t o t he physi cal uni ver se, t he cr eat ed order, but t he
t hi rd i nst ance funct i ons i n a rel at i onal sense. Even t he wor d t r ansl at ed ' k n o w'
(tyvG)) i s charact eri st i cal l y us ed i n J ohn of huma n knowl edge of t he di vi ne
per s ons and of t he r el at i onshi p amongs t t hose per s ons .
4
Thi s one ver s e pr esent s
an excel l ent cont rast i n t he J ohanni ne us age of cos mos , al l owi ng t he t er m t o
funct i on as t he physi cal , cr eat ed uni ver s e as wel l as t he l i vi ng, r el at i onal wor l d,
its ant hr opomor phi c self. I n t hi s way, what we cal l manki nd or humani t y ma y
be cal l ed ' t he wor l d' .
5
The rel at i onal sense of cos mos in t he Johanni ne literature generat es t he l argest
schol arl y conf usi on. Ol der descr i pt i ons of J ohanni ne dual i s m
6
combi ned wi t h
mor e r ecent soci ol ogi cal as s umpt i ons of a sect ari an- l i ke J ohanni ne communi t y
have l ed t o t he r econst r uct i on of an i nt r ospect i ve gr oup whi ch vi ews i t sel f in
i sol at i on from ' t hi s wor l d' .
7
Mor e r ecent J ohanni ne r esear ch has advocat ed t he
mor e compl ex rel at i onal nat ur e of cos mos . The cos mos i s t he pl ace or r eal m
3. Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John (AB 29; New York: Doubleday,
1966), p. 508.
4. D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), p. 139.
5. Ibid., p. 509.
6. This is due in no small part to the influence of Rudolf Bultmann, Theology of the New
Testament (2 vols; trans. Kendrick Grobel; London: SCM Press, 1951,1955), 2:21.
7. See, for example, J. Ashton, Understanding the Fourth Gospel (Oxford: Clarendon,
1991), pp. 206-8, who reads the term as dualistic opposition. Cf. R. E. Brown, The Community
of the Beloved Disciple: The Life, Loves, and Hates of an Individual Church in New Testament
Times (New York: Paulist Press, 1979), pp. 63-6; J. H. Neyrey, An Ideology of Revolt: John's
Christology in Social-Science Perspective (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988); B. J. Malina, 'John's:
The Maverick Christian Group: The Evidence of Sociolinguistics', BTB 24 (1994), 167-S2; B. J.
Malina and R. L. Rohrbaugh, Social-Science Commentary on the Gospel of John (Minneapolis:
Fortress, 1998), pp. 245ff.
76 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
wher e Go d i s at wor k, t he pl ace t hat i s t he ma i n f ocus of Go d ' s at t ent i on.
8
Rensber ger al l udes t o it as a ' di mens i on of encount er ' bet ween God and ma n.
9
Kost enber ger descr i bes it as ' a dar k pl ace t hat i s al i enat ed from God but nev-
ert hel ess r emai ns an obj ect of hi s l ov e ' .
1 0
But per haps t he best descri pt i on i s
gi ven by Keener : ' The wor l d is t hus t he ar ena of t he l i ght ' s salvific i nvasi on of
da r kne s s . . . "t he l ost " t hat Jesus came t o seek and t o s a ve ' .
1 1
The l anguage of
evi l t hat per vades t he Gos pel ' s depi ct i on of t he cos mos does not cl assi fy it i n a
compl et el y negat i ve sense; al t hough t hose wh o r emai n i n t he dar knes s r emai n
negat i ve, out of t hi s s ame ' dar k wor l d' c ome t hose wh o Jesus came t o s ave.
1 2
Thi s mor e r ecent under st andi ng of t he J ohanni ne cos mos vi ews t he t er m as
mor e rel at i onal l y compl ex t han pr evi ous descri pt i ons of J ohanni ne dual i sm. It
appear s t hat t he personi fi cat i on of t he cos mos i n t he J ohanni ne l i t erat ure i s t he
port rai t of a cl ass of peopl e.
2. 2. Orientational Dualism: Above and Below
J ohn' s s ymbol i c dual i s m i s mos t not ed i n hi s us e of bi pol ar t er mi nol ogy.
1 3
Al t hough uni que i n t he Gos pel s , it mi ght even be ar gued t hat hi s bi pol ar ter-
mi nol ogy i s an aper t ur e t o t he Gos pel ' s Weltanschauung. The st r angeness of
t hi s bi pol ar, dual i st i c l anguage has oft en l ed i nt erpret ers t o reflect mor e on i t s
soci et al funct i on t han on its cos mi c funct i on. Our exami nat i on of t hi s t er mi nol -
ogy wi l l expl or e its cosmol ogi cal di mensi on.
Whi l e t he dual i s m i n t he Synopt i cs i s pr i mar i l y hor i zont al - t hi s age and
t he age t o come, t he dual i s m of J ohn i s pr i mar i l y vert i cal - a cont rast bet ween
t he wor l d above and t he wor l d bel ow.
1 4
I n hi s di al ogue wi t h Nat hanael Jesus
decl ares he wi l l see ' heaven opened and t he angel s of God ascendi ng and
descendi ng upon t he Son of Ma n ' ( 1. 51) . Si nce t he t i me of Augus t i ne exeget es
have seen a connect i on bet ween t hi s ver s e and Gen. 28. 12, wher e i n a dr eam
8. M. Davies, Rhetoric and Reference in the Fourth Gospel (JSNTSup 69; Sheffield: JSOT
Press, 1992), p. 155. A. T. Lincoln, Truth on Trial: The Lawsuit Motif in the Fourth Gospel
(Peabody: Hendrickson, 2000), p. 260, similarly describes this realm as 'cosmic'.
9. D. Rensberger, Johannine Faith and Liberating Community (Philadelphia: Westminster,
1988), p. 137.
10. A. J. Kdstenberger, The Missions of Jesus and the Disciples According to the Fourth
Gospel: With Implications for the Fourth Gospel's Purpose and the Mission of the Contemporary
Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), p. 187.
11. C. S. Keener, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (2 vols; Peabody: Hendrickson, 2003),
1:329.
12. See Brown, The Gospel According to John, p. 509. See also S. B. Marrow, 'Koo|io<; in
John', CBQ 64 (2002), 90-102.
13. Our use of 'orientational' and 'ontological' to describe John's dualism is taken from
G. Lakoff and M. Johnson, Metaphors We Live By (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980).
14. Conceptually this would include language of heaven and earth. Cf. Brown, The Gospel
According to John, p. 347.
5. Johannine Literature 11
J acob sees a l adder st ret chi ng from eart h t o heaven. Ami ds t all t he t heor i es of
i nt ert ext ual expl anat i on, t he vi si on mus t me a n t hat Jesus is t he poi nt of cont act
bet ween heaven and ear t h.
1 5
Jesus hi ms el f i s t he connect i on bet ween t he heav-
enl y real i t y and eart h; t he l ocus of t he ' t raffi c' t hat br i ngs heaven' s bl essi ng t o
humani t y, t he l i vi ng t empl e of God ( 2. 19) .
1 6
Yet t hi s bi pol ar mot i f i s not mer el y uni fyi ng, but i s al so one of cont rast and
di vi si on. I n J es us ' di al ogue wi t h Ni codemus , he expl ai ns t hat ' no one can see
t he ki ngdom of God wi t hout bei ng bor n from above' (3. 3). The t er m avcoOev i s
i mpor t ant her e, for it can be t ransl at ed bot h t empor al l y as ' agai n' , or spat i al l y as
' f r om above' . Ni codemus under st ands t he t er m i n its t empor al sense, aski ng of
t he possi bi l i t y of a s econd bi rt h, but Jesus cl earl y has t he spat i al sense i n mi nd.
The doubl e meani ng of t he t er m s eems t o be us ed her e as par t of t he t echni que
of mi s under s t andi ng.
1 7
For, as Jesus expl ai ns: ' I f I have t ol d you about eart hl y
t hi ngs and you do not bel i eve, how can you bel i eve i f I t el l you about heavenl y
t hi ngs? No one has ascended i nt o heaven except t he one wh o des cended from
heaven, t he Son of Ma n ' ( 3. 12- 13) . Jesus now expl ai ns hi s earl i er comment i n
an or i ent ed sense wi t h hi ms el f as t he obj ect . Jesus uses Ni c ode mus ' mi sunder -
st andi ng of t he doubl e meani ng t o ref erence bot h spaces: eart hl y and heavenl y
(v. 12). Si mi l ar t o 1. 51, i n v. 13 Jesus descri bes hi ms el f as t he Son of Ma n
wh o has ascended and descended, not mer el y ' f r om above' , but t hi s t i me ' f r om
heaven' . In t hi s way, t he Johanni ne dual i sm, ' f r om above/ f r om be l ow' , func-
t i ons t o descr i be t he heavenl y j our ney of Jesus. But t hi s heavenl y j our ney i s a
ma r k of di st i nct i on:
4
Th e one wh o comes from above i s above al l ; t he one wh o
is from t he eart h bel ongs t o t he eart h, and speaks as one from t he eart h. The one
who comes from heaven i s above al l ' ( 3. 31) . As Wayne Me e ks expl ai ns, t hi s
mot i f i n t he Gos pel ' poi nt s t o cont rast , f orei gnness, di vi si on, j udgment . Onl y
wi t hi n t hat domi nant st ruct ure of est r angement and di fference is devel oped t he
count erpoi nt of uni t y. . . \
1 8
Jesus is ' f rom above' . Thi s is an i mport ant real i zat i on
for t he Four t h Gospel . As Jesus expl ai ns i n 8. 23, ' You are from bel ow, I a m
from above; you ar e of t hi s wor l d, I a m not of t hi s wor l d' . Whi l e t her e i s t hi s
cont r ast i ng dual i sm, it mus t be not ed t hat Jesus i s not compl et el y i sol at ed from
15. Brown, The Gospel According to John, pp. 88-91.
16. G. R. Beasley-Murray, John (WBC 36; Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1999), p. 28.
17. Brown, The Gospel According to John, p. 130. While the double meaning in 3.3 is col-
laborated by Nicodemus' confusion, the remainder of the Nicodemus dialogue clearly expresses
the spatial sense (see 3.31), as well as the two other uses of the term (19.11, 23). See also
R Bultmann, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (trans. G. R. Beasley-Murray; Philadelphia:
Westminster Press, 1971), pp. 135-6, n.4; and S. Hamid-Khani, Revelation and Concealment of
Christ: A Theological Inquiry into the Elusive Language of the Fourth Gospel (WUNT 2.120;
Tubingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 2000).
18. W. Meeks, 'The Man from Heaven in Johannine Sectarianism', JBL 91 (1972), 44-72
(67). Unfortunately, Meeks explains this bipolarity entirely by the narrative's ecclesiological tale,
which distorts the essence of the motif.
78 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
' t hi s wor l d' . Rat her, J ohn' s l anguage ' of deri vat i on i s itself a wa y of maki ng an
ant hr opol ogi cal s t at ement . . . Wha t t he Gos p e l . . . asks from t he r eader i s not t he
mi nd' s assent t o a dual i st i c wor l dvi ew but a deci si on about one' s exi s t ence' .
1 9
Thi s bi pol ar i t y i s, as expr essed b y Bul t mann, a ' dual i s m of deci s i on' .
2 0
At t he
ver y poi nt of di vi si on bet ween t he t wo si des of t he bi pol ari t y t her e i s a st rong
par t i ci pat or y sense. I n t hi s way, t he dual i s m has an i mpl i ci t sense of movement .
The cont rast bet ween ' f r om above' and ' f r om be l ow' has a rel at i onal sense t hat
cr eat es a dr ama. Thi s or i ent at i onal cont r ast i s a dr amat i c ' c omi ng i nt o t he
wor l d' ( 1. 9) .
2. 3. Ontological Dualism: Light and Darkness, Flesh and Spirit, Truth and
Falsehood
The Four t h Evangel i st us es numer ous ont ol ogi cal dual i sms, or bi pol ari t i es, t o
communi cat e hi s mes s age.
2 1
Our exami nat i on can onl y s ummar i ze t he cos mi c
funct i on of s ome of t he pr i mar y dual i sms.
Light and Darkness. The t er m ' l i ght ' appear s 29 t i mes i n t he J ohanni ne l i t era-
t ure ( 23 i n t he Gos pel ) ; t he t er m ' dar knes s ' appear s 14 t i mes . The physi cal phe-
nome na of l i ght and dar kness ar e easi l y adapt ed t o s ymbol i s m. The symbol i c
us e of l i ght / dark wa s c ommon i n t he Ol d Test ament , yet it al ways r emai ned
onl y a poet i c s ymbol for good and evi l (e. g. , J ob 30. 26) .
2 2
Even i n t he wr i t i ngs
at Qumr a n t hi s s ymbol i s m has t aken on a ne w di mensi on, ' f or i n t he Dead
Sea Scrol l s l i ght and dar kness have be c ome t wo mor al pr i nci pl es l ocked in
st ruggl e for domi nat i on over ma n ki n d' .
2 3
The real i t y of l i ght / dark i s even mor e
pr omi nent i n J ohanni ne t hought , wher e God hi msel f is descr i bed as l i ght and in
hi m t her e is n o dar kness (1 Jn 1.5). Even mor e, J ohn descr i bes t he comi ng of
Jesus as l i ght shi ni ng i nt o dar kness ( Jn 1.5), for he i s t he ' l i ght of me n ' (Jn 1.4)
19. L. E. Keck, 'Derivation as Destiny: "Of-ness" in Johannine Christology, Anthropology,
and Soteriology', in R. A. Culpepper and C. C. Black (eds), Exploring the Gospel of John: In
Honor of D. Moody Smith (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996), pp. 274-88 (284).
For a fixed dualism see J. A. Trumbower, Born from Above: The Anthropology of the Gospel of
John (Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1992).
20. Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, 2:21.
21. Helpful here is J. KraSovec, Antithetical Structure in Biblical Hebrew Poetry (Leiden:
Brill, 1984), p. 5, who explains that 'opposite concepts do not serve to create a contrast of thought
but a unity of thought - a totality*.
22. See E. Achtemeier, 'Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. The Biblical Understanding of
Light and Darkness', Interpretation 17 (1963), 439-49.
23. Brown, The Gospel According to John, p. 515. For a recent evaluation of the dualism
common to John and Qumran see D. E. Aune, 'Dualism in the Fourth Gospel and the Dead Sea
Scrolls: A Reassessment of the Problem', in D. E. Aune, T. Seland and J. Henning Ulrichsen (eds),
Neotestamentica et Philonica: Studies in Honor of Peder Borgen (NovTSup 106; Leiden: Brill,
2003), pp. 281-303.
5. Johannine Literature 79
and t he ' l i ght of t he wor l d' and t he ' l i ght of l i fe' ( Jn 8. 12). Thos e wh o desi r e
t o be c ome hi s chi l dr en mus t not wal k i n dar kness ( Jn 8. 12; 1 J n 1.6) but mus t
wal k i n t he l i ght - as he i s i n t he l i ght (1 J n 1.7). Such l anguage does t wo t hi ngs.
Fi rst , it descr i bes t he comi ng of Jesus as l i ght comi ng i nt o dar knes s . Such
cos mi c l anguage reflects t he force and t ype of comi ng wi t nes s ed i n t he rest of
t he J ohanni ne l i t erat ure. The l anguage of l i ght and dar k reflects a cos mi c bat t l e
and a cos mi c real i t y. Second, t he ont ol ogi cal dual i s m of l i ght / dark ' s hapes t he
wa y r eader s see t hems el ves i n rel at i on t o God and t he wor l d' .
2 4
The cont r ast i ng
nat ur e of t hi s bi pol ar i t y i s h ow J ohn expr esses its mes s age.
Flesh and Spirit. Thi s dual i s m is l ess pr omi nent t han l i ght / dar kness. As st at ed
i n t he Pr ol ogue, h u ma n life i s ' b o r n . . . of t he wi l l of t he flesh' ( 1. 13) . Al t hough
t he flesh is not sinful, for t he Wor d be c a me flesh ( 1. 14) , it i s s ynonymous wi t h
humani t y and i s, t heref ore, l i mi t ed t o t he l ower or l esser r eal m. For ' fl esh gi ves
bi r t h t o flesh, but t he Spi ri t gi ves bi rt h t o spi ri t ' ( Jn 3. 6). Thi s i s cl earl y st at ed
by Jesus i n Jn 6. 63: ' I t i s t he spi ri t t hat gi ves life; t he flesh i s usel ess. The wor ds
t hat I have s poken t o you are spi ri t and l i f e' . Li fe i n God i s life i n t he Spi ri t . In
ma n y ways t he flesh/spirit bi pol ari t y cor r esponds t o t he ori ent at i onal dual i s m
of ' f r om above/ f r om be l ow' . Spi ri t is bot h an i mpr ovement t o flesh, but it i s
al so what connect s one t o t he r eal m of God ( Jn 4. 24) .
Truth and Falsehood. The bi pol ar i t y of t rut h and f al sehood i s i nt i mat el y con-
nect ed t o t he bi pol ari t y of l i ght and dar kness. Whi l e t her e is oft en di s agr eement
concer ni ng a He br e w or Gr eek under st andi ng of t rut h - t he f or mer carri es t he
sense of rel i abl e and t r ust wor t hy wher eas t he l at t er carri es t he sense of t hi ngs
unvei l ed or not conceal ed - t he debat e is futile. ' Tr ut h' i s refl ect ed i n bot h senses
i n J ohn. Al l t hr ee me mbe r s of t he t ri ni t y are descr i bed i n t he Four t h Gos pel as
t rue: ' t he onl y t r ue Go d ' ( 17. 3) , Jesus i s ' t he Tr ut h' ( 14. 6) , and ' t he Spi ri t of
Tr ut h' ( 16. 13) . Yet t rut h is al so charact eri st i c of t he Chr i st i an (1 J n 1.6), and
even mor e, i t is a wa y of life (1 Jn 1.8). The arri val of Jesus i s t he arri val of t rut h
( 1. 17) . Jesus i s t rut h becaus e he embodi es t he r evel at i on of God - ' he hi ms el f
" nar r at es " Go d '
2 5
( 1. 18) and is a perfect refl ect i on and conj oi ner of t he real i t y
of God. Bul t mann expl ai ns wel l t hi s i dea of t rut h as real i t y:
The basic meaning of 'truth* in John is God's reality, which, since God is creator is the
only true reality. The emancipating knowledge of the truth (8.32) is not the rational
knowledge of the reality of that-which-is in general... No, this knowledge of the truth
is the knowledge, granted to men of faith, of God's reality; it frees one of sins (8.32-34).
True, aXvffeia does have the formal meaning of 'truth' when it is said that Jesus tells
the truth (8.45), or that the Spirit guides us into all truth (16.13). But the truth into
24. C. R. Koester, Symbolism in the Fourth Gospel: Meaning, Mystery, and Community (2nd
edn; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003), p. 172.
25. Carson, The Gospel According to John, p. 491.
80 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
which the Spirit guides is factually the reality of God; and Jesus does not merely tell
the truth but also is the truth (14.6). So truth is not the teaching about God transmitted
by Jesus but is God's very reality revealing itself - occurring! - in Jesus.
26
The opposi t e si de of t he bi pol ari t y, f al sehood, i s si mpl y anyt hi ng t hat is count er
t o God and hi s real i t y - anyt hi ng count er t o Jesus. Trut h, t hen, is s omet hi ng t hat
exi st s wi t hi n t he Chri st i an (1 J n 1.8; 2, 4) and is a real i t y t o whi ch a Chri st i an
bel ongs (1 Jn 3. 19). And t he source of this t rut h is t he Father, reveal i ng hi msel f
t hr ough t he Son ( 1. 14) .
2. 4. Life and Death
Al t hough t he bi pol ari t y of life and deat h mi ght best be classified al ong wi t h
t he ot her ont ol ogi cal met aphor s , its i mpor t ance i n t he Four t h Gos pel j ust i fi es
a separat e t reat ment . Over one- t hi r d of t he uses of t he wor d ' l i f e' i n t he Ne w
Test ament come from t he J ohanni ne l i t erat ure. The Four t h Gos pel ' s decl arat i on
of pur pos e even cent res not mer el y on t he Son of God, but on t he life t hat he
br i ngs: ' But t hese are wr i t t en so t hat you ma y come t o bel i eve t hat Jesus i s t he
Messi ah, t he Son of God, and t hat t hr ough bel i evi ng you ma y have life i n hi s
n a me ' ( 20. 31) . The t heme of ' l i f e' flows t hr ough t he ent i re Gos pel . God hi ms el f
is cal l ed ' t he l i vi ng Fat her ' ( Jn 6. 57) ; he ' has life i n h i ms e l f (Jn 5. 26); he
' r ai ses t he dead and gi ves t hem l i fe' (Jn 5. 21); he even gi ves life t o t he son (Jn
6. 57). The Son i s t he creat or of life ( Jn 1.3), so muc h so t hat t he Gos pel decl ares
' i n hi m wa s l i fe' ( 1. 4) . Even mor e, Jesus i s descr i bed as t he life itself: ' I a m t he
resurrect i on and t he life. Thos e wh o bel i eve i n me , even t hough t hey di e, wi l l
l i ve, and whoever l i ves and bel i eves i n me wi l l never di e' (Jn 11. 25-26). It is
her e t hat t he bi pol ari t y of life and deat h is ma de cl ear .
2 7
Li fe i n J ohn does not mer el y refer t o physi cal life, for J ohn uses i|n)Xil for
t hat life t o whi c h deat h i s a t er mi nus ( Jn 10. 11; 15. 13; 3 J n 2 ) .
2 8
Li fe i s what
t he Gos pel mes s age offers t o t he bel i ever. As Fl oyd Fi l son has argued, t he
Gospel coul d have been cal l ed ' t he Gos pel of Li f e ' .
2 9
J ohn appear s t o use ' l i f e'
i n a rel at ed manner t o us e of t he ' ki ngdom of God' i n t he Synopt i cs. If t he
' ki ngdom of God' denot es t he al mi ght y power of God as sover ei gn Lor d of
t he uni ver se and hi s abi l i t y t o save hi s peopl e, ' l i f e' is t he bl essed exi st ence
under t hat savi ng soverei gnt y, wi t h all t he ensui ng cons equences .
3 0
Thi s bl essed
26. Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, 2:18-19.
27. It is worth noting that the negative element in these bipolarities is ontologically deficient,
or more accurately, a non-entity (e.g., falsehood - an absence of truth; darkness - an absence of
light; death - an absence of life).
28. Brown, The Gospel According to John, p. 506.
29. F. V. Filson, 'The Gospel of Life: A Study of the Gospel of John', in W. Klassen and G. F.
Snyder (eds), Current Issues in New Testament Interpretation: Essays in Honor of Otto A. Piper
(New York: Harper & Brothers, 1962), pp. 112-13.
30. G. R. Beasley-Murray, Gospel of Life: Theology in the Fourth Gospel (Peabody: Hen-
drickson, 1991), pp. 2-3.
5. Johannine Literature 81
exi st ence occur s not onl y i n t he fut ure (et ernal life), but is even r eal i zed i n t he
present . For as Jesus expl ai ns concer ni ng t he real i t y of t hi s bi pol ari t y: ' anyone
wh o hear s my wor d and bel i eves hi m wh o sent me has et ernal life, and does not
c ome under j udgement , but has pas s ed from deat h t o l i fe' (Jn 5. 24). Li fe begi ns
in t he pr esent for John; and ' et er nal l i fe' ' i nevi t abl y cal l s t o mi nd t he fut ure t hat
fl ows from t he pr es ent ' .
3 1
The j uxt aposi t i on of t he pr esent and fut ure aspect s
of t hi s bi pol ari t y has baffled i nt erpret ers, forci ng t hem i nt o mas s conf usi on
concer ni ng t he eschat ol ogy of t he Gos pel .
3 2
But it i s exact l y at t hi s poi nt , at t he
i nt ersect i on of t he pr esent and t he fut ure, t hat J ohn' s port rai t of ' l i f e' begi ns t o
t ake on its cos mi c scope. The real i t y of t he Wor d i s past , present , and fut ure. It
is not bound up by geogr aphy, for it ma de t he wor l d, nor is it bound up i n t i me,
for it came t o t he wor l d ' f r om above' . The Gospel por t r ays t he i nt er vent i on of
God i nt o huma n hi st ory, an event t hat can br i ng real life. It is i n t hi s wa y t hat
t he concept of ' l i f e' in t he Four t h Gos pel bear s an i nnat e narrat i val sense. Li fe
in J ohn is a l i vi ng event , not a t hi ng. It i s real and rel at i onal - r oot ed i n com-
muni on of God and ma n .
3 3
It i s r oot ed i n et erni t y; it is r oot ed i n t he one wh o is
cal l ed ' t he Way, t he Trut h and t he Li f e' ( 14. 6) .
2. 5. Conceptual Emplotment: The Narrative Structure of Concepts
Our st udy of cos mol ogy i n t he Johanni ne l i t erat ure began at t he l evel of wor ds
or concept s, but it cannot r emai n t her e. As we hi nt ed above, whi l e t her e is
war r ant for an exami nat i on of wor ds or t hemes i n J ohn t hat have cosmol ogi cal
freight, such st udi es often di vor ce t he wor ds or t hemes from t he macr o- l evel
of t he nar r at i ve.
3 4
The wor ds or phr as es mus t be l ocat ed wi t hi n t he st ory t ol d
by t he nar r at i ve. Even mor e, t he wor ds and concept s exami ned above wer e
narrat ol ogi cal in nat ur e. The t er ms i mpl i ci t l y move d i n t he di rect i on of st ory;
onl y by t hei r i nnat e part i ci pat ory sense coul d t he t er ms be under s t ood t o have
any meani ng. In t hi s way, t he goal of t hi s st udy i s t o exami ne not mer el y J ohn' s
cosmol ogi cal l anguage but t he cosmol ogi cal mot i f r oot ed i n t he ent i re J ohan-
ni ne cor pus .
3 5
Our goal , t hen, is t o engage t he ' empl ot t ed' cos mol ogy of t he
31. Ibid.,p.5.
32. See, for example, Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, 2: 49-59.
33. As described by B. D. McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth that
Could Change Everything (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2006), p. 37, the Gospel of John
depicts 'life' as 'an interactive relationship with the only true God and with Jesus Christ'.
34. See, for example, Cassem, 'KOop,oc in the Johannine Corpus', which defines its 'cosmic
theology' in terminology alone, with no mention of the larger cosmic functions of the narrative,
although Cassem admits that 'the simple "inventory" approach of this type of paper provides basic
data upon which a developed Johannine cosmic theology can be based' (p. 90).
35. This type of analysis requires a sense of the narrative's identity, or maybe something Paul
Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, vol. 1 (trans. K. McLaughlin and D. Pellauer; Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 1984), called emplotment, whereby the narrative configuration itself gives
meaning to ideas and events. In this way, an idea or even an event 'gets its definition from its
82 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
J ohanni ne l i t erat ure. Our st art i ng as s umpt i on is t hat t he si mi l ar i nt roduct ory
l anguage of cos mi c begi nni ngs i n J ohn and 1 J ohn uni t e t he Gos pel wi t h t he
l et t ers by a c ommon nar r at i ve empl ot ment - a c ommon wor l d- cons t r uct i on,
3 6
even i f t he r el at i onshi p bet ween t he t wo i s uncer t ai n. We wi l l begi n by exami n-
i ng t he Gos pel of John.
3. The Gospel of John
The Cosmic Drama. The spiritual nat ure of t he Four t h Gospel has l ong distin-
gui shed t hi s Gos pel from t he Synopt i cs. Peopl e speak of t wo different, t hough
r el at ed,
3 7
' t al es ' funct i oni ng wi t hi n t he nar r at i ve.
3 8
The first, t he hi st ori cal t al e,
i s whe r e t he Jesus i n t he nar r at i ve is t aken t o b e t he char act er J es us i n t he
story. The second, t he eccl esi ol ogi cal t al e, is what t he nar r at i ve t el l s ( reveal s)
becaus e of its hi st ori cal s i t uat ednes s .
3 9
I n fact, wi t h t he amount of l i t erat ure on
t he J ohanni ne communi t y i n r ecent decades , al ong wi t h t he l ack of hope for
fi ndi ng a hi st ori cal Jesus i n John, it mi ght be sai d t hat t he nar r at i ve has been
r ead pr i mar i l y for its eccl esi ol ogi cal t al e.
Thes e t wo t al es, however , ar e not compr ehens i ve of t he nar r at i ve t al e(s).
Whi l e t he nar r at i ve i s cl earl y refl ect i ng on hi st or y and chur ch, it al so has its
focus on s omet hi ng t hat goes wel l beyond t he t empor al and geogr aphi cal . The
Gos pel of J ohn is cl earl y t el l i ng what Adel e Rei nhar t z cal l s a cosmol ogi cal
t al e.
4 0
Thi s cos mol ogi cal t al e does not begi n wi t h Jesus or a vi rgi n, but wi t h
God ' i n t he begi nni ng' . Nor does it end wi t h t he di shear t ened di sci pl es, wh o
awai t t he Hol y Spi ri t . Rat her, it carri es f or war d i nt o t he n e w phas e, gui ded by
t he Par acl et e. As Rei nhar t z expl ai ns:
contribution to the development of the plot. A story, too, must be more than just an enumeration
of events in serial order; it must organize them into an intelligible whole, of a sort such that we
can always ask what is the "thoughf' of this story' (p. 65).
36. This language is taken from E. Adams, Constructing the World: A Study in Paul's Cosmo-
logical Language (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000), p. 3. See also P. L. Berger and T. Luckmann,
The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge (London: Penguin,
1967).
37. According to Brown, The Community of the Beloved Disciple, pp. 31-4, 89, it is the
Beloved Disciple that connects the historical tale with the ecclesiological tale. In essence, Jesus'
intimate disciple in the historical tale was the leader of the Johannine community in the ecclesio-
logical tale.
38. This use of 'tale' to refer to the Johannine narrative is taken from A. Reinhartz, The Word
in the World: The Cosmological Tale in the Fourth Gospel (SBLMS 45; Atlanta: Scholars Press,
1992).
39. This second tale has been made almost paradigmatic by J. L. Martyn, History and Theol-
ogy in the Fourth Gospel, 3rd edn (NTL; Westminster/John Knox Press, 2003). For a critique of
the abuses of the ecclesiological tale see E. W. Klink III, The Sheep ofthe Fold: The Audience and
Origin of the Gospel of John (SNTSMS 141; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).
40. Reinhartz, The Word in the World.
5 . Johannine Literature 83
The cosmological tale intersects and parallels the historical and ecclesiological
tales at many points. Indeed, it may be said that the cosmological tale provided the
narrative framework into which the other tales are set. The two- to three-year span
of Jesus' earthly mission - the 'story time' of the historical tale - and the period of
the Johannine church - 'the story time' of the ecclesiological tale - are placed in
a continuum of the Word's pre-existence with God and the eventual return of the
Word and his disciples to God's realm, that is, the 'story time' of the cosmological
tale.
41
Thus , t he cosmol ogi cal t al e or ' cos mi c d r a ma '
4 2
pr ovi des t he over ar chi ng
framework of t he Gos pel nar r at i ve - i ncl udi ng all t empor al , geogr aphi c, and
t heol ogi cal senses. Rat her t han compi l i ng t he var i ous cos mi c t hemes , what i s
needed i s an exami nat i on of t he var i ous act s of t hi s cos mi c dr ama.
Our poi nt of cont act wi t h t hi s cos mi c dr ama i s bas ed upon a l i t er ar y-
rhet ori cal r eadi ng of t he pl ot of t he Four t h Gospel . Whi l e several have exam-
i ned t he pl ot of John, mos t have used strictly i nt ernal evi dence wi t h an emphasi s
on t hemat i c- t heol ogi cal cr i t er i a.
4 3
Us i ng t he wor k of Fer nando Segovi a, t hi s
chapt er wi l l posi t a pl ot of t he Four t h Gospel t hat al so i ncl udes an exami nat i on
of t he gener i c convent i ons of pl ot c ommon t o anci ent bi ogr aphi es .
4 4
Begi nni ng
wi t h t he as s umpt i on t hat t he Four t h Gos pel is a f or m of anci ent bi ogr aphy,
it i s c ommon t o expect a t hree-fol d st ruct ural framework for a bi ogr aphy: a
begi nni ng nar r at i ve of ori gi ns and yout h, a cent ral and ext ended nar r at i ve of
t he publ i c life or career of t he her o, and a concl udi ng nar r at i ve of deat h and
l ast i ng si gni f i cance.
4 5
Thus , us i ng t he t hree-fol d st ruct ure c o mmo n t o anci ent
41. Ibid., pp. 4-5.
42. Although the use of 'tale' by Reinhartz is useful, this essay prefers the term 'drama'. The
reason is more theological than literary, for while 'tale' implies a more straightforward report of
events or facts, 'drama' carries a greater sense of performance. For a discussion of the theological
sense of'drama' see K. J. Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical-Linguistic Approach
to Christian Theology (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2004), who explains that in
a drama 'the actor/audience boundary was blurred; all humans were players before God... the
audience is part of the action' (p. 37). Cf. the different use of 'drama' by Martyn, History and
Theology in the Fourth Gospel, pp. 35ff.
43. For a history of previous approaches and methods to the plot of John see F. F. Segovia,
'The Journey(s) of the Word of God: A Reading of the Plot of the Fourth Gospel', Semeia 53
(1991), 26-31. For a fuller theoretical discussion see R. A. Culpepper, Anatomy of the Fourth
Gospel: A Study in Literary Design (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983); and J. L. Staley, The
Print's First Kiss: A Rhetorical Investigation of the Implied Reader in the Fourth Gospel (SBLDS
82; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988).
44. Segovia, 'The Joumey(s) of the Word of God', pp. 32-5.
45. For a discussion of the basic conventions of ancient biographies see, among others,
J. Fairweather, 'Fiction in the Biographies of Ancient Writers', Ancient Society 5 (1974), 266-75;
P. Cox, Biography in Late Antiquity: A Quest for the Holy Man (Berkeley: University of Cali-
fornia Press, 1983), pp. 45-64; and R. A. Burridge, What Are the Gospels? A Comparison with
Graeco-Roman Biography, 2nd edn (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004).
84 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
bi ogr aphy, as wel l as an expl i ci t awar enes s of t he over ar chi ng cos mi c dr ama,
t he Gos pel of J ohn can be di vi ded i nt o t hr ee sect i ons: (1) nar r at i ve of cos mi c
ori gi ns ( 1. 1- 18) ; (2) nar r at i ve of cos mi c career ( 1. 19- 17. 26) ; and (3) narrat i ve
of cos mi c si gni fi cance ( 18. 1- 21. 25) .
4 6
In t hi s way, we ar e now pr epar ed t o
exami ne t he t hr ee act s of t he cos mi c dr ama i n t he Gos pel of John.
3. 1. Narrative of Cosmic Origins (1.1-18)
The narrat i ve of ori gi ns ser ved as t he begi nni ng frame for t he depi ct i on of t he
car eer of t he subj ect of t he bi ogr aphy. But t hi s nar r at i ve of ori gi ns is qui t e
unusual , for ' i t cont ai ns no st andar d account of J es us ' ancest or s, bi rt h, or yout h;
i n fact, no i nf or mat i on what s oever of t hi s ki nd is gi ven' .
4 7
The geneal ogi es i n
t he Gos pel s of Mat t hew and Luke ar e mor e conduci ve t o a st andar d nar r at i ve of
ori gi ns. But t hi s i s exact l y wher e one mi sr eads J ohn - at t he poi nt of compar i -
son. Cer t ai nl y one mi ght compar e t he Pr ol ogue t o a Logos , Torah, or Wi s dom
t radi t i on or t o Phi l o or t he Gos pel of Thoma s ,
4 8
but t he t hrust of t he Pr ol ogue
is t he cos mi c ori gi n of Jesus. For wher e t he Pr ol ogue falls short concer ni ng
nor mal or i gi n account s, ' i t goes wel l beyond t he usual at t ri but i on of di vi ne
par ent age gr ant ed t o a son of god as such and bes t ows on Jesus a ver y hi gh
degr ee of di vi ni t y' - t he Son of t he God of t he c os mos .
4 9
Thus , t hi s nar r at i ve
of ori gi ns signifies not si mpl y a begi nni ng, but an i nt r oduct i on t o t he subj ect
at hand. It does not expound t he ma i n poi nt s, but i nt r oduces t hem - it r eveal s
J ohn' s pur pos e, i nt ent i ons, and i nt er est .
5 0
It is t he st art i ng poi nt from whi ch t he
rest of t he Gos pel mus t be read. For John, t he st art i ng poi nt for under st andi ng
Jesus is t he ori gi n of t he wor l d itself. Ami ds t debat es concer ni ng t he l i t erary
st ruct ure of t he Pr ol ogue, t hi s essay wi l l as s ume a t hree- part st ruct ure in t he
form of an i ncl usi on ( A B A) : (1) The Wor d and God ( w. 1-2); (2) The Wor d
and t he Wor l d ( w. 3- 17) ; (3) The Wor d and God (v. 18) .
5 1
The Word and God (1.1-2). At t he cent r e of t he uni ver se, bot h i n t i me and space,
bei ng God i n part i ci pat i on and es s ence, wa s t he Son, t he Wor d of God. Thi s
bi ogr aphy of Jesus i s set i n rel at i on t o t he God of et erni t y, t he Lor d of al l ages
and Cr eat or of al l .
5 2
46. It is important to note with Segovia, 'The Journey(s) of the Word of God', that 'This pro-
posed demarcation is not entirely free of difficulties; indeed, a number of other options can be
reasonably advanced as weir (p. 35).
47. Segovia, 'The Journey(s) of the Word of God\ p. 36.
48. For a recent discussion of these readings of the Prologue see J. Painter, 'Rereading Genesis
in the Prologue of John?', in Aune et al Neotestamentica etPhilonica, pp. 179-201.
49. Segovia, 'The Journey(s) of the Word of God', p. 36.
50. Keener, The Gospel of John, 1: 338.
51. This structure is taken from F. F. Segovia, 'John 1:1-18 as Entree into Johannine Reality:
Representation and Ramifications', in J. Painter, R. A. Culpepper and F. F. Segovia (eds), Word,
Theology, and Community in John (St Louis: Chalice Press, 2002), pp. 33-64.
52. Beasley-Murray, John, p. 16.
5. Johannine Literature 85
The Word and the World (1.3-17). The Wor d rel at es t o t he Wor l d in t hr ee differ-
ent rel at i ons: creat i on (v. 3) , humani t y ( w. 4- 13) , chi l dr en of God ( w. 14-17).
The Wor d is t he creat or of al l t hi ngs; t he apri ori t y; t he sour ce of sour ces; t he
ori gi n of ori gi ns. The creat i on of t he wor l d is i t sel f revel at ory; cr eat i on i t sel f
bear s t he s t amp of t he Wor d ( 1. 3) .
5 3
The Son is t he ori gi n of life, and t he life t hat
he gi ves is l i ght t o humani t y. Thi s is t he ont ol ogy of Li ght and Li fe ( 1. 4) . But
t hi s l i ght i s not st agnant , for it is in mot i on, comi ng t o and vi ct ori ousl y shi ni ng
upon t he dar k wor l d ( 1. 5) . The first gl i mpse of t hi s light was ma de by God' s
appoi nt ed wi t ness, J ohn t he Bapt i st . Thi s wi t ness not onl y bear s t est i mony t o
t he l i ght , but confi rms its cos mi c ori gi n. Far from bei ng t he l i ght , he ser ved as
its first wi t ness ( 1. 6- 8) . An d t he huma n wi t ness is t hi s: t he Li ght of t he Wor l d
is comi ng. Whi l e s ome rej ect ed t he l i ght , as dar kness does, ot her s r ecei ved
hi m and wer e gi ven t he ri ght t o be c ome chi l dren of God. Thes e chi l dr en ar e
not gi ven wor l dl y life, but ar e gi ven t he Wor d of Li fe. The God of t he uni ver se
has act ed on t hei r behal f ( 1. 9- 13) .
M
Al l of t hi s occur r ed becaus e t he Wor d, t he
nar r at i ve of God, wh o came t o t he Wor l d. He wa s at t est ed as t he Wor d i n flesh
by John, and as t he ne w Mos e s wh o bes t ows upon hi s chi l dr en gr ace and t rut h
( 1. 14- 17) .
The Word and God (1.18). The rol e of t he Wor d is t o ' s how' God. As t he nar-
rat i ve of God, Jesus i s t he ul t i mat e di scl osur e of God. The Son of God reflects
t he ver y essence of t he God of t he cos mos . To know t he Son is t o know t he
Fat her - an i mpor t ant real i t y for chi l dr en of God. The Li ght of t he Wor l d i s
shi ni ng from t he sour ce of t he cos mos itself. The cos mi c dr ama is t he st ory of
uni on bet ween God and humani t y t hr ough t he Wor d of Li fe.
3. 2. Narrative of Cosmic Career (1.19-17.26)
Fol l owi ng t he t hree-fol d st ruct ural di vi si on of anci ent bi ogr aphi es, t he nar r at i ve
of ori gi ns is f ol l owed by a mor e ext ended nar r at i ve of t he char act er ' s publ i c life
or career. Yet, t he nar r at i ve of ori gi ns i s not forgot t en. Bul t mann decl ar ed t hat
t he Pr ol ogue
... is folly comprehensible only to the man who knows the whole Gospel. It is only
when the circle is complete, and the 'Son' has returned to the 6oa which the love
of the 'Father' has prepared for him iTpo Kaiafk)A.f|C KOO|iOi) (17.24), only when the
reader has been led back out of the temporal sphere into the eternal, that he can judge
conclusively in what sense the Prologue leads out of the eternal into the temporal.
55
I n t he s ame way, t he nar r at i ve of career is onl y compr ehensi bl e whe n one
under st ands t he Pr ol ogue' s narrat i ve of ori gi ns. Whi l e a full exami nat i on of
t hi s nar r at i ve s egment i s beyond t he scope of t hi s essay, a few aspect s ar e
53. Brown, The Gospel According to John, p. 25.
54. Carson, The Gospel According to John, p. 126.
55. Bultmann, The Gospel of John: A Commentary, p. 13.
86 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
i mpor t ant t o hi ghl i ght . Fi rst , t he j our ney mot i f is t he domi nant feat ure of J ohn' s
nar r at i ve of career. Whi l e bi ogr aphi es of hol y me n gener al l y f ol l ow a t opi cal
r at her t han chr onol ogi cal devel opment , t he Four t h Gos pel por t r ays Jesus wi t h
a chr onol ogi cal t ype of pr es ent at i on.
5 6
The i mpor t ance of t hi s cannot be over-
st at ed. Ther e is evi dence t hat i n anci ent bi ogr aphi es t he subj ect ' s career, or
6LK\IX\ (akme), wa s t he mos t i mpor t ant and pr oduct i ve par t of t he subj ect ' s life
and t he s um t ot al of hi s life wor k.
5 7
' Dur i ng t he per i od of akme, t he her o i s at
t he hei ght of hi s pr oduct i ve power s and per f or ms hi s mos t si gni fi cant deeds .
Hi s char act er has r eached its mos t mat ur e s t a ge ' .
5 8
The di fference bet ween a
t opi cal and chr onol ogi cal pr esent at i on of akme is t he abi l i t y t he bi ogr apher has
t o emphas i ze t he var i ous par t s of t he subj ect , and even mor e, hi s act i vi t i es. ' The
gr adual unf ol di ng of char act er t hr ough successful deeds gave [the her o] t hat
uni t y and dr amat i c q u a l i t y . . .
9 5 9
It i s not j us t t he per s on of Jesus t hat t he Gos pel
por t r ays, but al so hi s mi s s i on, hi s comi ng eiQ t o v K O O | i o v .
Second, t he empl ot ment of t hi s j our ney mot i f is cont r ol l ed by t he cos mi c
dr ama descr i bed i n t he Pr ol ogue. The nar r at i ve of car eer can be di vi ded i nt o
numer ous j our neys of J e s us ,
6 0
all of whi ch wor k wi t hi n t he ori gi nal cos mi c
j our ney. The nar r at i ve' s f ocus on t he final j our ney of Jesus t o Jer usal em
(12. 12ff. ) and a uni que focus on t he ' hour ' , wi t h all t he dr amat i c t ensi on t hat
creat es, expl ai n t hat ' t he i ni t i al event s of t he j our ney pr oper cl earl y s how
t hat t hi s final vi si t is under t aken wi t h t he appoi nt ed end of t he mi s s i on i n full
v i e w. . . ' .
6 1
Eve n mor e, r at her t han t he opponent s bei ng huma n forces, J ohn
r eveal s t hat t he bat t l e i nvol ves cos mi c forces - t he devi l / Sat an ( 13. 1- 3, 27) . The
car eer of t he Word-i n-fl esh is r oot ed i n t he cos mi c dr ama of t he Wor d of God.
3. 3. Narrative of Cosmic Significance (18.1-21.25)
The t hi rd of t he t hree- f ol d st ruct ural di vi si ons of anci ent bi ogr aphi es, t he
nar r at i ve of deat h and l ast i ng si gni fi cance, frames t he nar r at i ve of career and
br i ngs concl us i on t o t he bi ogr aphi cal present at i on. The nar r at i ve of signifi-
cance pr ovi des a pr oper concl usi on t o t he life and mi ssi on of t he subj ect . Thr ee
aspect s are i mpor t ant for t hi s essay. Fi rst , t he narrat i ve of si gni fi cance por t r ays
t he compl et i on of t he mi ssi on of t he Wor d. Thi s nar r at i ve di vi si on hi ghl i ght s
' t he hour ' - t he r eas on for t he Wor d' s comi ng ( 12. 27) . For as Jesus had earl i er
decl ared: ' whe n I a m lifted up from t he eart h, [I] wi l l dr aw all peopl e t o my s e l f
( 12. 32) . Such l anguage descr i bes bot h t he act of cruci fi xi on and t he final st at us
56. Segovia, 'The Journey(s) of the Word of God\ p. 38.
57. G. H. Polman, 'Chronological Biography and AKME in Plutarch*, Classical Philology 69
(1974), 169-77.
58. Ibid.,p. 172.
59. Ibid.
60. As argued by Segovia, 'The Journey(s) of the Word of God', pp. 37-45.
61. Ibid., p. 44.
5. Johannine Literature 87
of t he exal t ed redeemer. Jesus is bot h crucified and exal t ed; t hi s is t he last phas e
of hi s mi ssi on. An d t hi s mi ssi on has cos mi c resul t s: ' No w i s t he j udgment of
t hi s wor l d; n ow t he r ul er of t hi s wor l d wi l l be dr i ven out ' ( 12. 31) . The cos mi c
bat t l e i s over ; t he r esur r ect ed Lor d i s vi ct or i ous.
Second, whi l e t he mi ssi on of t he Son of God is compl et e, t he mi s s i on of t he
chi l dr en of God is j us t begi nni ng. The mi s s i on of t he Son t akes its depar t ur e
from 3. 16. The Fat her is t he ori gi n and goal of t he mi s s i onar y ent erpri se, t he
unsent sender of t he Son.
6 2
The Fat her ' s sendi ng of t he Son s hows hi s s upr eme
l ove for humani t y. The Son, t he sent one, is not t o do hi s own wi l l but t he wi l l
of t he sender, t o do hi s wor ks and t o speak hi s wor ds , and t o be account abl e t o
t he sender ( 4. 34; 5. 19-20, 36; 9. 4). The ' sent one ' has t he responsi bi l i t y of r ep-
r esent i ng hi s sender ( 5. 19- 23; 12. 44- 45; 13. 20; 14. 9b). Thi s uni que r el at i onshi p
bet ween t he Fat her and t he Son, t he ' s ender ' and t he ' sent one ' , is dupl i cat ed
l at er bet ween Jesus and hi s di sci pl es. Whi l e ever y ot her mi s s i on is der i vat i ve
of t he Son' s , ' J ohn makes cl ear t hat J es us ' mi s s i on. . . wa s not t o st and al one;
it wa s t o be cont i nued i n t he mi s s i on of hi s f ol l ower s' (cf. 4. 38; 15. 8, 16, 27;
17. 18; 20. 19- 23) .
6 3
An d t hi s mi ssi on of God' s chi l dr en is a cos mi c mi ssi on,
r equi r i ng pr ot ect i on from t he ' evi l on e ' ( 17. 15) , wi t h t he goal t hat ' t he wor l d
ma y know t hat you have sent me and have l oved t hem even as you have l oved
me ' ( 1 7 . 2 3 ) .
Thi r d, i f t he nar r at i ve of ori gi ns descr i bes t he Wor d' s comi ng i nt o t he wor l d,
t he nar r at i ve of si gni fi cance descr i bes t he Wor d' s depar t ur e from t he wor l d.
As Jesus t el l s Mar y Magdal ene after hi s r esur r ect i on, ' Do not hol d on t o me ,
becaus e I have not yet as cended t o t he Fat her. But go t o my br ot her s and say t o
t hem, "I a m ascendi ng t o my Fat her and your Fat her, t o my God and your Go d " '
( 20. 17) . The ascensi on pas s ages ma ke cl ear ' t hat t hi s depar t ur e from t he wor l d
is a r et ur n t o t he si t uat i on Jesus enj oyed bef or e ent er i ng t he wor l d. As such
it compl et es t he ci rcl e of act i vi t y t hat began wi t h hi s pr e- exi st ent cr eat i on' .
6 4
In t hi s way, t he mi s s i on of t he Wor d is compl et ed. But t hi s i s not t he end of
t he cos mi c dr ama, for its si gni fi cance is car r i ed fort h in t hr ee ways . Fi rst , t he
mi ssi on of t he Son i s cont i nued by hi s di sci pl es: ' As t he Fat her has sent me ,
so I send y ou ' ( 20. 21) . Second, t he comi ng of t he Par acl et e wi l l cont i nue t he
mi ssi on of Jesus by t eachi ng t he fol l owers and r emi ndi ng t hem of t he wor d
of t he Wor d ( 14. 26) , by t est i fyi ng about t he Wor d ( 15. 26) ; and by convi ct i ng
t he wor l d ( 16. 8) . Fi nal l y, t he Wor d hi ms el f wi l l r et ur n for t he chi l dr en of God
and t ake t hem ' h o me ' .
6 5
I n t hi s way, whi l e t he Son has wo n a cos mi c vi ct or y
and compl et ed hi s mi ssi on, t he cos mi c dr ama is ongoi ng for anyone wh o has
62. T. Okure, The Johannine Approach to Mission: A Contextual Study of John 4:1-42 (WUNT
2.31; Tubingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1998), p. 23.
63. KSstenberger, The Missions of Jesus and the Disciples, p. 141.
64. Reinhartz, The Word in the World, p. 24.
65. Ibid.
88 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
r ecei ved t he Wor d and be c ome a chi l d of God. The par t i ci pat or y nat ur e of t he
dr ama cont i nues for t he r eader s of John.
4 . The Letters of John
Al t hough mos t comment ar i es of t he J ohanni ne l et t ers focus on t he eccl esi ol ogi -
cal t al e and t he ' J ohanni ne c ommuni t y' ,
6 6
t he l et t ers are best vi ewed as cont i nu-
i ng t he cos mi c dr ama of t he Four t h Gos pel . I n fact, becaus e t he cos mi c dr ama
focuses on t he life and mi ni st r y of t he (hi st ori cal ) Wor d, it mat t er s not if t he
l et t ers wer e wr i t t en bef or e or after t he Gos pel , for i n t he chr onol ogy of t he
cos mi c dr ama t he l et t ers speak t o t he cont i nui ng mi ssi on of t he chi l dr en of God.
Thi s cont i nui ng mi ssi on is still concer ned wi t h t he rel at i onshi p of t he chi l dren
t o God, and t he need for t he wor l d t o kn ow God: ' he is t he at oni ng sacrifice for
our si ns, and not for our s onl y but al so for t he si ns of t he whol e wor l d' ( 1 Jn
2. 2). I ssues for t hese chi l dr en of God ar e ver y muc h r el at ed t o t he wor d of t he
Wor d: t o be ' of God' i s t o be doi ng r i ght eousness (1 Jn 4. 7) - for knowi ng
hi m i s obeyi ng hi m (1 Jn 2. 3) ; refl ect i ng t he ' t r ue l i ght ' (1 J n 2. 8) ; r emai ni ng
separat e from t he wor l d ( 1 J n 2. 15) ; ' abi di ng' i n God (1 J n 2. 24) ; r el yi ng on t he
Spi ri t (1 J n 4. 2, 13) ; and l i vi ng i n t he hope of t he Son' s r et ur n (1 J n 2. 25, 28) . I n
t hi s post - Jesus st age in t he cos mi c dr ama, t he s ame J ohanni ne cos mi c dual i sms,
t he ' wor l d' and ' l i ght / dai knes s ' are us ed t o descr i be t he si t uat i on of t he r eader s.
The bat t l e i s ongoi ng but t he t wo si des are known: ' We know t hat we ar e God' s
chi l dren, and t hat t he whol e wor l d l i es under t he power of t he evi l one ' (1 Jn
5. 19). An d t he r eas on for t hi s cos mi c enmi t y is t he wor l d' s rej ect i on of t he Son:
' The r eason t he wor l d does not kn ow us i s t hat it di d not know h i m' (1 J n 3. 1).
But t her e i s no caus e for fear, ' f or what ever i s bor n of God conquer s t he wor l d.
And t hi s i s t he vi ct ory t hat conquer s t he wor l d, our fai t h' (1 Jn 5. 4). Thi s i s life
in t h e ' Wo r d of Li f e' .
It i s i n t he l et t ers of J ohn t hat t he oddi t i es of t he Four t h Gos pel are ma de
under st andabl e. The cos mi c dr ama not onl y cont ext ual i zes so mu c h of J ohn' s
so-cal l ed ' spi r i t ual ' l anguage, but al so reflects upon hi s ' r eal i zed' eschat ol ogy.
Rat her t han l ocat i ng J ohn' s eschat ol ogi cal l anguage as ei t her pr esent or fut ure,
t he cos mi c dr ama al l ows for an i ncarnat i onal t ensi on of pr esent and fut ure, j us t
as t he Wor d, t he Go d of t he uni ver se, koKT\v(x>oev kv rp.lv ( 1. 14) . The cos mi c
dr ama r equi r es t he r eader t o see t he J ohanni ne real i t y as t he over l ap bet ween
God and humani t y. An d it is t hi s real i t y t hat is por t r ayed i n t he J ohanni ne l et t ers,
wri t t en t o t he chi l dr en of God wh o cont i nue t he mi s s i on of t he Wor d.
It is in t hi s wa y t hat Bul t mann' s ' dual i s m of deci si on' expl ai ns t he rhet ori cal
funct i on of t he J ohanni ne cor pus. J ohn cl earl y creat es and di vi des its r eader s
i nt o t wo cl asses of peopl e. But t hi s dual i s m of bel i ef i s not bet ween ' gr oups ' .
66. See, for example, J. Lieu, The Theology of the Johannine Epistles (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1991).
5. Johannine Literature 89
Rat her, it i nvol ves all wh o see t he Li ght of t he Wor l d and r ecei ve t he Wor d
of Li fe. Thi s concept , so pert i nent i n t he J ohanni ne l i t erat ure, has pot ent i al
for assi st i ng our under st andi ng of t he i dent i t y f or mat i on of earl y Chr i st i ans.
Accor di ng t o Judi t h Li eu, t he i dent i t y of Chr i st i ans as a ' t hi r d r ace' wa s con-
fi rmed by t he us e of t he t er m ' t he wor l d' . As Li eu expl ai ns:
Although it has its roots in the Jewish eschatological contrast between 'this world'
and 'the world to come', this opposition to 'the world' is characteristically, although
not exclusively, Christian. Within the NT it is most developed in the Johannine lit-
erature where it has often been dubbed 'sectarian', yet in principle it may become a
fundamental organizing point for Christian self-identity, capable of multiple expres-
sions. This is the language of internal identity-formation, not of external visible
perception.
67
The st ory or ' t al e' of t he J ohanni ne l i t erat ure, t herefore, is not mer el y hi st ori cal
or eccl esi ol ogi cal , but cosmol ogi cal . It is t he i nt ernal per cept i on of one' s st at us
bef or e God - wi t h dr amat i c i mpl i cat i ons for all of life. It i s life i n t he Wor d, t he
Son of God, and an exi st ence as t he chi l dr en of God, r ecei vi ng from hi s ful l ness
gr ace upon gr ace ( 1. 16) .
5. Conclusion: Cosmology and the Johannine Literature
The eni gma of J ohn i s not wher e he ends but wher e he begi ns . The t hr ee ot her
Gos pel s t ake t he r eader t o t he cr oss; J ohn is no different. But whi l e t hose s ame
t hr ee Gos pel s start t he r eader in J ewi s h Pal est i ne, J ohn st art s t he r eader at t he
begi nni ng of t i me itself, at t he ver y cent r e of t he cos mos . For hi m, onl y a cos mi c
per spect i ve on Jesus, even mor e, a cos mi c per spect i ve on t he ent i re Chr i st i an
faith, can fully expr ess what it means t o be Chri st i an. It is i n t hi s wa y t hat J ohn' s
cosmol ogy, t hough bewi l der i ng t o t he hi st ori an and ambi guous t o t he t heol o-
gi an, i s perfect l y sui t ed t o expl ai n t he life and mi s s i on of Jesus from Nazar et h.
Rat her t han posi t i ng J ohanni ne cos mol ogy as a mer e t heol ogi cal or soci ol ogi cal
motif, t hi s chapt er has ar gued t hat J ohn' s cos mi c dr ama ser ves as t he over r i di ng
st ory of t he J ohanni ne Jesus and t he J ohanni ne faith. The J ohanni ne l i t erat ure
pr ocl ai ms a cos mi c dr ama about t he Li ght of t he Wor l d as t he Wor d of Li fe. The
real i t y of t hi s t rut h has not hi ng l ess t han cos mi c r ami f i cat i ons.
6 8
67. J. Lieu, Neither Jew Nor Greek? Constructing Early Christianity (Study of the New
Testament and Its World; London: T&T Clark, 2002), p. 188. Cf. V. L. Wimbush, ' "...Not of
this World..." Early Christianities as Rhetorical and Social Formation', in E. A. Castelli and
H. Taussig (eds), Reimagining Christian Origins: A Colloquium Honoring Burton Mack (Valley
Forge: Trinity Press International, 1996), pp. 23-36.
68. Thanks are due to the Biola University Faculty Research and Development Grant Program
for providing release time in early 2007, during which some of the research for this essay was
accomplished.
6
PAUL'S COSMOLOGY: THE WITNESS OF ROMANS,
1 AND 2 CORINTHIANS, AND GALATIANS
Joel White
Our t opi c cal l s at t he out set for a cl ear definition of cosmol ogy. Whe n I t al k about
Paul ' s cos mol ogy I mean hi s under st andi ng of t he st ruct ure and mechani cs of t he
cosmos (i. e. , t he physi cal uni ver se)
1
on t he one hand and of its ori gi n and pur pose
on t he other. Si nce t he Enl i ght enment at t empt s have been ma de t o l i mi t t he scope
of cosmol ogy t o t he first par t of t hi s defi ni t i on.
2
Thi s pref erence under scor es t he
fact t hat t he per cei ved t ask of cos mol ogy vari es accordi ng t o one' s wor l d vi ew.
The moder n under st andi ng of cos mol ogy as a sort of ' anat omy and physi ol ogy'
of t he uni ver se reflects t he nat ural i st i c par adi gm of t he post - Enl i ght enment West .
3
Fr om t he perspect i ve of t he anci ent wor l d, however , quest i ons concer ni ng t he
st ruct ure and wor ki ngs of t he cos mos cannot be separat ed from quest i ons con-
cerni ng its ori gi n,
4
and wi t hi n an earl y Jewi sh wor l d vi ew, t he quest i on of t he
pur pose of t he cos mos mus t be consi der ed par amount .
Our t ask i s t o anal yse Paul ' s cos mol ogy, par t i cul ar l y as it surfaces i n hi s
l et t ers t o t he Roma ns , Cor i nt hi ans and Gal at i ans, and t o di s cover h ow t hi s ma y
have i nfl uenced hi s t heol ogy. A mome nt ' s refl ect i on s houl d ma ke it cl ear t hat
t he t ask is fraught wi t h pi t fal l s. Ther e i s, first of al l , t he danger of const ruct -
i ng a gr and and al l - encompas s i ng par adi gm - cos mol ogy i s, after all, r at her
heady stuff - t hat is i nt ernal l y coher ent but har d t o act ual l y anchor i n t he r ough
and t umbl e l anguage of Paul ' s l et t ers. We mus t not forget , i n t he t hi ck of our
t heor i zi ng, t hat we are not r eal l y ' const r uct i ng Paul ' s wor l d' , wi t h t he begui l i ng
pr omi s e of penet r at i ng i nsi ght i nt o Paul ' s t heol ogy t hat phr as e i mpl i es .
5
Rat her
1. Unless otherwise noted, I will use the English word 'cosmos' in this restricted sense
below.
2. Cf. W. Gantke, 'Welt/WeltanschauungAVeltbild IV.l Religionsgeschichtlich', TRE 35:
562.
3. Cf. W. Spam, 'Welt/Weltanschauung/Weltbild IV.4 Kirchengeschichtlich', TRE 35: 595-8.
4. Cf. R. A. Oden, Jr., 'Cosmology, Cosmogony', ABD 1: 1162.
5. Peter Berger introduced the concept of 'world construction' to delineate the process by
which human beings produce society in The Social Reality of Religion (London: Faber & Faber,
1969), pp. 3-28; but of course both he and those who make use of the concept are aware of its
6. Romans, Corinthians, Galatians 91
we are at t empt i ng t he mor e ci r cums pect t ask of art i cul at i ng hi s cos mol ogy on
t he basi s of - it mus t be r eadi l y admi t t ed - spar se evi dence and of det er mi ni ng
its specific r ol e i n t he f or mul at i on of hi s t heol ogy. It i s, i n fact, not i mmedi at el y
appar ent at t he out set t hat we have enough evi dence t o fruitfully compl et e t he
t ask, at l east wi t h r egar d t o Paul ' s under s t andi ng of t he st ruct ure and mechani cs
of t he cos mos . Paul offers us little i n t he wa y of di rect descr i pt i ve l anguage
about t he wor l d.
Even wh e n Paul does empl oy cos mol ogi cal t er mi nol ogy - ' t he t hi rd heaven'
in 2 Cor i nt hi ans 12, for i nst ance ( on whi ch see bel ow) - we have t o be awar e
of a second danger : t hat of mi s t aki ng Paul ' s s ymbol i c uni ver se for hi s act ual
under s t andi ng of t he st ruct ure and mechani cs of t he physi cal uni ver se. Even
t oday, cos mol ogi cal l anguage i s s el dom us ed mer el y for dr awi ng u p bl uepr i nt s
of what moder ns cal l ' t he nat ur al wor l d' . Mor e oft en, it ser ves met aphys i cal
ends . Tenaci ous t al k of t he sun r i si ng and set t i ng, for i nst ance, bet r ays t he need,
even i n our pos t - Coper ni can wor l d, t o compr ehend t he uni ver se as a meani ngf ul
cont ext for huma n life. It i s, however , qui t e usel ess as an i ndi cat or of moder n
West er n concept i ons of t he phys i cal uni ver se.
Anot her danger l urks i n t he mi s us e of wor d st udi es. Out l i ni ng Paul ' s cos -
mol ogy ent ai l s mu c h mor e t han anal ysi ng al l t ext s t hat cont ai n t he t er m Koopxx;
and synt hesi zi ng t he r esul t s.
6
For one t hi ng, t he t er m s el dom denot es anyt hi ng
t hat , st ri ct l y speaki ng, per t ai ns t o cos mol ogy ( as defi ned above) i n t he l et t ers
under exami nat i on her e. Onl y i n t hr ee t ext s does it refer t o t he phys i cal eart h or
uni ver se per se ( Rom. 1.20; 4. 13; pr obabl y 1 Cor. 3. 22
7
) . I n a handf ul of ot her
pas s ages it refers t o t he cr eat ed or der (i . e. , t he wa y t he wor l d wa s des i gned t o
wor k; Rom. 5. 12, 13; 1 Cor. 8. 4;
8
14. 10; Gal . 4. 3) . Whi l e t hese ar e cl earl y of
metaphorical nature. Cf. E. Adams, Constructing the World: A Study in Paul's Cosmological
Language (SNTW; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000), pp. 3-6.
6. The noun appears 9 times in Romans (1.8,20; 3.6,19; 4.13; 5.12,13; 11.12,15), 21 times
in 1 Corinthians (1.20,21,27 [2x], 28; 2.12; 3.19,22; 4.9,13; 5.10 [2*]; 6.2 [2*]; 7.31 [2x], 33,
34; 8.4; 11.32; 14.10), 3 times in 2 Corinthians (1.12; 5.19; 7.10), and 3 times in Galatians (4.3;
6.14[2x]). Cf. H. Balz, 'KOOPOC;', EDNT 1:310.
7. So also Hermann Sasse, 'KOOPOC;', TDNT 3:884. Many commentators take the term here
to refer more narrowly to humanity or humanity and angelic beings.
8. Most scholars treat KOOPO; in 1 Cor. 8.4 as a reference to the physical world. If, however,
the phrase ou6ei> elbcxiXnv kv KOAPCJ) is a Corinthian slogan, as most commentators believe, and
if, further, ou6ev is understood as a predicate ('an idol is nothing in the world'), rather than as
an attributive ('there is no idol in the world'), then the sense of the phrase would more naturally
be something like 'an idol is of no consequence in the nature of things'. This seems to me to be
more in line with the Corinthians' position. Conversely, for either Paul or the Corinthians to say
'there is no idol in the created world', when the ancient world was chock full of them and when
they actually meant 'there are no other gods in the created world' strikes me as somewhat odd.
Most scholars argue for an attributive use of ou6ev because of the parallel clause ouSetc; Geo;
el PF] *IQ, in which oi>6ei<; is clearly used attributively. They overlook the fact that Paul is not
freely constructing a parallelism here, but rather quoting the Corinthians, on the one hand, and
92 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
i nt erest for t hi s st udy, t hose occur r ences wher e t he t er m is us ed i n a soci ol ogi cal
sense t o denot e t he st ruct ure and wor ki ngs of huma n soci et y (1 Cor. 7. 31, 33,
34; Gal . 6. 14) or i n an ant hr opol ogi cal sense t o denot e t he s um of humani t y
(all ot her occur r ences) ar e r el evant onl y t o t he ext ent t hat t hey can be s hown t o
be s omet hi ng mor e t han wel l - est abl i shed synecdochal ext ensi ons of t he t er m.
Si mi l ar caveat s obt ai n for ot her ' cos mol ogi cal ' t er ms such as yr\ oupavoc;
and all t he mor e for t er ms such as oiKOtyievri* whi ch is often di scussed because
of its par adi gmat i c r el at i onshi p t o KOO\IOQ. The mer e pr es ence of cosmol ogi cal
t er mi nol ogy i n a gi ven t ext does not necessar i l y i ndi cat e t hat Paul i s real l y
descr i bi ng t he physi cal wor l d.
A final danger i nvol ves t he pal pabl e bl ur r i ng of t he l i nes bet ween cos mol ogy
and eschat ol ogy i n ma ny schol ar l y di scussi ons of Ne w Test ament cosmol ogy.
Thes e oft en t ake up t opi cs such as t wo- age dual i sm or t er ms such as al oSv, for
exampl e.
9
Thi s i s under st andabl e si nce cos mol ogy and eschat ol ogy s o cl earl y
i mpi nge upon each ot her i n earl y J ewi s h apocal ypt i c t ext s. St i l l , whi l e it i s
cert ai nl y t r ue t hat apocal ypt i c eschat ol ogy cannot be under s t ood wi t hout a sol i d
gr asp of earl y J ewi s h cosmol ogy, si nce t he f ormer fol l ows from cert ai n funda-
ment al bel i efs pr es uppos ed i n t he l at t er (e. g. t hat God cr eat ed t he wor l d) , one
woul d be har d pr es s ed t o convi nci ngl y ar gue t he r ever se. Cos mol ogy, i n ot her
wor ds , is f oundat i onal t o eschat ol ogy. Thi s i s not t o deny t hat Paul ' s cos mol -
ogy, l i ke t he rest of hi s t heol ogy, expr esses i t sel f wi t hi n an apocal ypt i c nar r at i ve
st ruct ure t hat has a di st i nct l y eschat ol ogi cal f ocus .
1 0
If Heilsgeschichte is t he
st ory of God pur s ui ng and at t ai ni ng hi s pur pos es wi t hi n hi st ory, t he cos mos i s
t he st age on whi ch t he st ory i s act ed out . Never t hel ess, pr eci sel y becaus e we
are at t empt i ng t o i sol at e t he specific cont r i but i on of cosmol ogi cal concept i ons
t o Paul ' s t heol ogy, we mus t st ri ve, at l east initially, t o del i neat e t hese wi t hout
ref erence t o eschat ol ogi cal concept s and t er ms.
It i s, however , i mport ant t o r emember t hat Paul nowher e di scusses hi s cosmol -
ogy per se. It surfaces her e and t here i n hi s t reat ment of ot her t opi cs, but it is mor e
pr esupposed t han art i cul at ed. It i s, above all, part of t he war p and woof of t he
biblical met anar r auve whi ch shapes hi s t hi nki ng. Thi s means t hat t he best way
t o descri be Paul ' s cosmol ogy i s i n t er ms of its narrat i ve flow. That is j ust as wel l
si nce consi derat i ons of space do not al l ow for an exhaust i ve exegesi s of all t ext s
that i mpi nge on t he t opi c of cosmol ogy i n Paul ' s earl y letters. Inst ead we wi l l
alluding to the Shema, on the other (on which, see below), so that the nuance of ouoev/ouoelt; is
predetermined in each case by the quoted pre-text rather than the present context.
9. Cf. R. Bultmann's treatment of the term Koqicx; in Theologie des Neuen Testaments, 9th
edn (Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1984), pp. 254-60, esp. 256-7, where Bultmann virtually equates
the term with alcov and perceives Koojicx; as per se a negative theological concept denoting ruin.
For a critique cf. Adams, Constructing the World, pp. 13-18.
10. I am in general agreement with J. C. Beker's thesis that Paul's theology is essentially
apocalyptic in nature. Cf. Paul the Apostle: The Triumph of God in Life and Thought (Philadel-
phia: Fortress, 1980), esp. pp. 135-81.
6. Romans, Corinthians, Galatians 93
pr oceed t hemat i cal l y, di scussi ng first of all Paul ' s underst andi ng of t he st ruct ure
of t he wor l d, t hen descri bi ng i n br oad st rokes what I wi l l call Paul ' s ' cosmol ogi -
cal nar r at i ve' and assessi ng its i mpact on Paul ' s t heol ogy al ong t he way.
We cannot say wi t h any pr eci si on h ow Paul under st ood t he st ruct ure of t he
physi cal uni ver se. As an East er n Medi t er r anean J e w of t he first cent ur y CE, he
woul d l i kel y have been expos ed t o OT, Hel l eni st i c and Mes opot ami an cos -
mol ogi es , at t he ver y l east , and hi s concept of t he cos mos ma y wel l have been
l ess pr eci se t han t hat of moder n West erners. The evi dence s eems t o i ndi cat e t hat
t her e wa s no uni fi ed cos mol ogy i n earl y J udai s m.
1 1
We can nonet hel ess ma ke
a f ew br oad general i zat i ons about Paul ' s cosmol ogy. I n Phi l . 2. 11 he speaks of
t hr ee di st i nct r eal ms whi ch are i nhabi t ed by sent i ent bei ngs: t he heavenl y, t he
eart hl y and t he subt er r anean (enoupavi GW Kai ei uyei cov Kai KataxGoviwv).
Thi s i s, of cour se, ver y muc h in l i ne wi t h t he Ol d Test ament concept i on of
heaven as t he dwel l i ng pl ace of t he angel s, eart h as t he habi t at of t he l i vi ng, and
Sheol as t he r eal m of t he d e a d .
1 2
1 Cor. 15. 40 woul d s eem t o confi rm t hat Paul
t hi nks of t hese as real pl aces charact eri zed by different physi cal condi t i ons and
t herefore r equi r i ng different bodi es: heavenl y bodi es (ooS|iaTa CTOupavaa)
for t he heavenl y r eal m and eart hl y bodi es (oi^xaza eTTiyeia) for t he eart hl y
r eal m.
1 3
Paul al so speaks i n 2 Cor. 12. 2-3 of bei ng t r anspor t ed t o t he ' t hi r d
heaven' , but it i s pr obabl y best not t o r egar d t hi s as pr oof t hat Paul shar ed t he
apocal ypt i c concept i on of a stratified heaven.
1 4
He ma y be doi ng not hi ng mor e
11. The competing cosmologies of the ancient world left their mark on the calendrical con-
troversies that characterized much of early Judaism (on which, see below). Cf. R. Beckwith,
Calendar and Chronology, Jewish and Christian: Biblical, Intertestamental and Patristic Studies
(Leiden: Brill, 2001), pp. 98-110. Even individuals may not have conceptualized the universe in
terms of a unified cosmology. Philo, for instance, seems to have worked at various points with
different cosmological models. Cf. A. Scriba, 'Welt/Weltanschauung/Weltbild IV.4 Neues Testa-
ment', TRE 35: 582-3.
12. Cf. J. Guhrt, 'Earth', NIDNTT 1:523.
13. Although commentators generally assume that oc ^i ar a Troupdvia in 1 Cor. 15.40 refers
exclusively to the sun, moon and stars mentioned in 1 Cor. 15.41 due to the link established by
6oa in both verses, I am inclined to see a reference to the resurrection bodies of believers and to
view 1 Cor. 15.41 as a parenthetical analogy establishing the fact that there are different levels of
luminosity - the exact sense of the term bdcpi here is a matter of much discussion - between the
heavenly lights. The following considerations lead me to question the scholarly consensus here:
(1) the analogy makes the most sense in the context of an argument concerning the nature of resur-
rection bodies when interpreted against the background of Dan. 12.2-3, one of the few explicit OT
references to the resurrection of the dead, in which the resurrected righteous are compared to stars.
Cf. R. Hays, First Corinthians (Interpretation; Louisville: John Knox, 1997), p. 271. (2) The argu-
ment in 1 Cor. 15.42-44 continues to highlight the contrast between the pre- and post-resurrection
body (OWjia is the subject of the passive verbs in 1 Cor. 15.42-43, as 1 Cor. 15.44 makes clear) and
it is explicitly affirmed that the latter is 'raised in glory' (cf. 1 Cor. 15.43: yipTttl kv 6otj). (3)
Those belonging to Christ are referred to as 'the heavenly ones ( ol TTOi)pdviOl) in 1 Cor. 15.48
and are explicitly said to bear the image of 'the heavenly one' ( TOO iroupaviou).
14. A seven-tiered heaven is more frequent in Jewish and early Christian apocalyptic literature
94 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
t han bor r owi ng t he l anguage of vi si onar y t ransport t o embel l i sh hi s descri pt i on
of hi s myst i cal exper i ence. Thus , t he f ew cl ues t hat Paul gi ves us l ead t o t he
concl usi on t hat hi s i mage of t he cos mos wa s s haped by t he OT concept i on of a
t ri part i t e uni ver se. Mor e we cannot say wi t h any degr ee of cert ai nt y.
We t urn n ow t o Paul ' s cos mol ogi cal nar r at i ve, whi ch can be adequat el y
descr i bed i n t er ms of ni ne t enet s I bel i eve Paul woul d have affi rmed:
1. God created the cosmos. Paul adher es, of cour se, t o t he f undament al t rut h
of t he OT t hat God ma de ' t he heavens and t he ear t h' ( p m CO H), a Semi t i c
mer i s m denot i ng t he ent i re uni ver s e
1 5
(cf. Gen. 1.1; 14. 19, 22; Exod. 20. 11;
31. 17; 2 Kgs 19. 15; 2 Chr on. 2. 12; Pss. 115. 5; 121. 2; 124. 8; 134. 3; 146. 6; Isa.
37. 16; Jer. 32. 17) . He descr i bes God as t he ' cr eat or ' ( Rom. 1.25; see al so Eph.
3. 9), and assert s i n cr edal st at ement s t hat ' al l t hi ngs ar e from h i m' ( Rom. 11. 36:
&; a uxoO. . . t a n a v t a ; 1 Cor. 8. 6: 4 ou t a n a v t a ) , wi t h t a mvxa ser vi ng as
t he funct i onal equi val ent of t he mer i s m ' heaven and ear t h' (cf. Act s 17. 24; Col .
1.16). The e a u t oO / k oft const r uct i on cont rast s wi t h Hel l eni st i c f ormul a-
t i ons t hat combi ne e wi t h pr evi ous l y exi st i ng mat t er (i5A,r|).
16
Paul t her eby
i mpl i ci t l y affirms creatio ex nihilo, t hus al i gni ng hi ms el f wi t h an est abl i shed
t enet of earl y J ewi s h t heol ogy, especi al l y in Hel l eni st i c J ewi s h ci rcl es (cf. e. g.
2 Mace. 7. 28; Phi l o, Spec. Leg. 4. 187) .
1 7
Thi s doct r i ne i s al so pr es uppos ed in
Paul ' s charact eri zat i on of Go d i n 2 Cor. 4. 6 as ' t he one wh o says "l i ght shal l
shi ne forth out of da r kne s s " ' (6 eluoSv 4 K O K O T O I X ; Aa|ii|/ei), and it i s
expl i ci t l y affi rmed i n Rom. 4. 17 wher e he descr i bes God as t he one wh o ' cal l s
t hi ngs not exi st i ng i nt o exi s t ence' (KaAoOvi og xa |if) o i r a ax; ovxa ) .
2. Christ is the agent of creation of the cosmos. I n hi s di scussi on of t he i ssue
of meat t hat had pr evi ous l y been offered t o i dol s (1 Cor. 8. 1- 11. 1) Paul ascr i bes
t o Chri st a uni que r ol e i n t he cr eat i on of t he wor l d. I n 1 Cor. 8.4 he first of all
expr esses hi s gener al agr eement wi t h t he Cor i nt hi ans t hat ' an i dol is of no con-
s equence i n t he nat ur e of t hi ngs ' (cf. n. 8) and t hat ' t her e i s no Go d but one ' , t he
cent ral affi rmat i on of J ewi s h monot hei s m. Ther e ma y be ot her ' so- cal l ed gods ' ,
he concedes i n 1 Cor. 8. 5, ' but ' he cont i nues in 1 Cor. 8. 6, ' for us t here is one
God t he Fat her (i<; 0 O < ; 6 n c mp ) , from wh o m al l t hi ngs exi st , and we exi st
for hi m, and one Lor d Jesus Chr i st ( el g KUpux; Trjooug XpioxoQ), t hr ough
wh o m al l t hi ngs exi st , and we exi st t hr ough hi m' . I n t hi s dr amat i c chri st ol ogi cal
(cf. Apoc. Mos. 35.2; Apoc. Ab. 19.4; 2 En. [shorter recension] 20.1; Ascen. Isa. 9.1), but the first
Greek recension of T. Levi 2-3 (second century BCE) describes a three-tiered heaven. Cf. A. Y.
Collins, Cosmology and Eschatology in Jewish and Christian Apocalypticism (Leiden: Brill,
2000), p. 26. The 'third heaven' and 'paradise' designate the same, rather than different levels of
heaven (cf. 2 En. 8.1; Apoc. Mos. 37.5). The repetition is stylistic.
15. Cf. G. J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15 (WBC 1; Milton Keynes: Word, 1987), p. 15.
16. Cf.W.Schr^e
t
I^ersteBriefandieKorinther(lKor6J2-llJ6 (EKKVH72;Solothurn;
Neukirchen-Vluyn: Benzinger; Neukirchener, 1995), p. 242; E. Schnabel, Der erste Brief des
Paulus an die Korinther (HTA; Wuppertal; Giessen: Brockhaus; Brunnen, 2006), p. 448.
17. Cf. J. D. G. Dunn, Romans 1-$ (WBC 38A; Dallas: Word, 1988), p. 218.
6. Romans, Corinthians, Galatians 95
modi f i cat i on of t he Sh e ma
1 8
( Deut . 6. 4: ' Hear , O Israel , t he Lor d your God i s
one Lor d' [cbcoue IoparjA, Kupi og 6 Geoq f)p(3v KUpiog eiQ e a u v ] ) , Paul has
cr eat i vel y assi gned t he t er ms Qe6<; and Kupux;, whi ch in t hei r ori gi nal cont ext
had one and t he s ame referent , to t wo separ at e referent s: 0O<; n ow refers to
God t he Fat her and KUpiog n o w refers to Chr i s t .
1 9
Paul ' s hi gh Chr i st ol ogy (cf.
Rom. 9. 5; Phi l . 2. 6- 11) demanded t hat r oom be ma de for Chri st wi t hi n t he OT' s
defi ni t i ve st at ement o f God' s f undament al uni t y. Thi s has, of cour se, unavoi d-
abl e i mpl i cat i ons for t he doct r i ne o f God as creat or. Paul i s fully awar e of t hese
and, i ndeed, i s eager to expl oi t t hem: Go d t he Fat her r emai ns t he effect i ve cause
o f cr eat i on (e ou) , but Chri st has be c ome t he agent by means of wh o m ( 8 i ' o u )
God br i ngs ever yt hi ng i nt o exi st ence.
3. God created the cosmos in order to bring glory to himself. Thi s OT per -
spect i ve (cf. Nu m. 14. 21; Ps s . 57. 6; 72. 18- 19; Hab. 2. 14) is shar ed by Paul .
Rom. 11. 36a not onl y descr i bes God as t he effect i ve caus e and medi at or of
cr eat i on ( her e Paul i s st ressi ng t he uni t y o f God' s pur pos es and does not del i n-
eat e separ at e r ol es for God and Chri st in cr eat i on) , but al so as i t s ul t i mat e goal :
' Al l t hi ngs exi st from and t hr ough and for h i m' (e a u i o u Kal 5 i ' a u t oO Kal
ei<; ambv t a i rai / t a) . That t hi s i s to be under s t ood in t er ms o f God' s ul t i mat e
gl or y i s ma de cl ear by t he doxol ogy t hat fol l ows in Rom. 11. 36b: ' To hi m be
gl or y forever, a me n' . That Paul per cei ves t he goal o f creat i on to be t he gl or y o f
God i s al so i mpl i ci t in Rom. 1. 20-25. I n hi s i ndi ct ment o f humani t y due to its
di sr egar d for t he r evel at i on o f God in nat ur e, Paul cl earl y as s umes , on t he basi s
o f hi s under s t andi ng o f t he OT cr eat i on account ,
2 0
t hat t he wor l d wa s desi gned
to faci l i t at e t he wor s hi p o f God. I ndeed, he st at es as muc h t hr ee t i mes in t he
cour s e o f t hi s short pas s age. Fi rst , in Rom. 1.20-21 he ar gues t hat huma n bei ngs
ar e wi t hout excuse becaus e al t hough creat i on reveal s God' s i ncompar abl e gl ory,
t hi s di d not br i ng about t he appr opr i at e r esponse: ' Al t hough t hey kn e w God,
t hey nei t her gl ori fi ed hi m as God nor t hanked h i m' (yvovzeq t o v 0ov oi > X Q<;
Qebv 4oo aoav r\ nuxa pi oi r i oa v' ) . Second, in Rom. 1.23 Paul char ges huma n-
i t y wi t h ' exchangi ng t he gl or y of t he i ncorrupt i bl e God' ( f }Maav xv\v 6oav
xoO ac|)0apTOU OeoO) for i mages of peopl e and var i ous ani mal s. Thus t he gl or y
t hat was ri ght l y God' s was offered t o i dol s. Thi r d, Paul rei t erat es hi s i ndi ct ment
agai nst i dol at ry i n Rom. 1.25, decl ar i ng t hat huma n bei ngs exchanged t rut h
for a l i e and ' wor s hi ppe d and s er ved cr eat ed t hi ngs r at her t han t he cr eat or '
( eoepao0r ) oav Kal eAxfopeuoav i fj Kt i o e i mpa t o v Ki i o a v t a ) . Toget her
t hese st at ement s r eveal Paul ' s convi ct i on t hat t he wor l d was cr eat ed wi t h a
speci fi c pur pos e: t o di rect t he mi nds and hear t s of huma n bei ngs t o t hei r creat or
s o that t hey mi ght wor s hi p and gl ori fy hi m.
18. So also Schnabel, Korinther, p. 449.
19. So also recently G. D. Fee, Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study
(Peabody: Hendrickson, 2007), p. 90.
20. Cf. Adams, Constructing the World, pp. 153-4.
96 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
4. The cosmos imparts enough information to human beings to make them
aware of their obligation to worship God. Paul ar gues i n Rom. 1.20-25 t hat
even t he Gent i l es, wh o do not possess t he Torah, cannot cl ai m i gnor ance wi t h
r egar d t o t hi s obl i gat i on si nce ' what can be known about God (yvovzeQ xov
060V)
2 1
i s mani f est a mong t he m' ( Rom. 1.19). Paul expl ai ns what he means
mor e pr eci sel y i n Rom. 1.20a: ' t he uns een t hi ngs of God, t hat i s, hi s et ernal
power and deity, have been seen and under st ood by means of t he t hi ngs he
has ma de from t he creat i on of t he wor l d' . Though t he l anguage Paul empl oys
her e has st r ong affinities wi t h St oi c t hought , any Gr eek phi l osophi cal i nfl uence
i s pr obabl y medi at ed vi a t he J ewi s h wi s dom t radi t i on (cf. esp. Wi s . 13. 3- 9) .
2 2
It i s l ess l i kel y t hat Paul i s di rect l y ' appr opr i at i ng] t he St oi c not i ons of t he
wor l d' s i nher ent rat i onal i t y and or der l i nes s ' .
2 3
I ndeed, t he ver y fact t hat he uses
t he phr as e ' f r om t he creat i on of t he wor l d' (diro KXioeox; KOO(iou) poi nt s
up a cruci al di fference over agai nst t he St oi c concept of an et ernal l y exi st i ng,
sel f-sust ai ni ng cos mos . Nei t her is Paul ar gui ng t hat creat i on i mpar t s exhaus -
t i ve or even savi ng knowl edge of God.
2 4
An d t hough comment at or s gener al l y
under st and ' t he uns een t hi ngs of God' (xa dopaxa auxou) t o refer t o God' s
' i nvi si bl e at t r i but es ' ,
2 5
1 a m not convi nced t hat Paul has i n mi nd a list of di vi ne
charact eri st i cs i n t he abst ract , of t he sort one c ommonl y finds i n syst emat i c
t heol ogi es. Rat her, Paul del i mi t s t he scope of xa dopaxa auxou by descr i bi ng
it as ' hi s et ernal power and dei t y' (f) dt 8i o<; auxou 5uva| i i <; Kai Oeioxr)*;).
2 6
Per haps 8uvap,i<; serves as an exampl e of one specific at t ri but e whi l e 0i6xr|<;
funct i ons as a cat ch-al l wor d denot i ng all ot her possi bl e di vi ne char act er i st i cs.
2 7
However , t he possi bi l i t y t hat t he doubl et i s a hendi adys shoul d al so be consi d-
ered, i n whi ch cas e t he second t er m shoul d be vi ewed as an ext ensi on of t he
first.
28
I f so, t hen Paul woul d be referri ng t o ' t he et ernal power of hi s dei t y' , t he
i mpl i cat i on bei ng t hat Paul i s not t hi nki ng of part i cul ar at t ri but es of God at al l ,
but r at her of God' s i nexhaust i bl e power and i nest i mabl e wor t h. Thus we find
our sel ves at t he ver y hear t of t he OT concept of gl or y and ver y cl ose i ndeed
t o OT t radi t i ons t hat di scer n i n cr eat i on a pr of ound r evel at or y mome nt wi t h
r espect t o t hat ver y gl or y of God (cf. Pss. 8. 1, 5; 19. 1-6; 104 esp. v. 31) .
21. E. Kasemann, An die Romer (HNT 8a; 2nd edn; Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1974), p. 35,
argues convincingly for this sense of the phrase.
22. Cf. Dunn, Romans 1-8, pp. 57-8.
23. So Adams, Constructing the World, p. 163.
24. Cf. T. Schreiner, Romans (ECNT; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), pp. 85-6.
25. Cf. e.g. D. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 19%),
p. 104.
26. C. K. Barrett, The Epistle to the Romans (HNTC; New York: Harper & Row, 1957), p. 35,
renders the doublet similarly: 'his eternal power, his very Godhead'.
27. Similarly J. A. Fitzmyer, Romans (AB 33; New York: Doubleday, 1993), p. 280.
28. Cf. K. Haacker, Der Brief des Paulus an die Romer (THKNT 6; Leipzig: Evangelische
Verlagsanstalt, 1999), p. 49.
6. Romans, Corinthians, Galatians 97
5. There is a divinely ordained hierarchy of relationships between God,
humanity and the cosmos. It i s har d t o know what Paul ma de of Gr eek and
Hel l eni st i c concept i ons concer ni ng t he aest het i cs of t he uni ver s e.
2 9
As we s aw
above, hi s l anguage bet r ays fami l i ari t y wi t h t hem at t i mes, but he does not
i ndul ge in t he abst ract cosmol ogi cal specul at i on charact eri st i c of t he Gr eek
phi l osophi cal t radi t i on. He does not expound, l i ke hi s younger cont empor ar y
Phi l o, on t he rat i onal i t y of desi gn (cf. Opif 20- 25) , beaut y (cf. Praem. 41- 42)
and mat hemat i cal perf ect i on (cf. Opif. 13-14; Aet. 26) of t he cr eat ed wor l d,
nor does he t heor i ze, l i ke Pl at o, about t he or gani c cor r espondences bet ween
t he cos mos and huma n bei ngs (cf. Tim. 44d- 45b) or bet ween t he cos mos and
human soci et y (cf. Gorg. 508a) . The cl osest Paul comes t o t hat sort of specul a-
t i on i s i n 1 Cor. 14. 10, wher e he dr aws compar i s ons bet ween var i ous s ounds
and l anguages, and i n 1 Cor. 15. 35- 44, wher e he compar es t he r esur r ect i on
body t o seeds, var i ous ki nds of flesh, and t he l umi nosi t y of heavenl y bodi es ,
respect i vel y. Not hi ng in Paul ' s ar gument i n ei t her pas s age, however , suggest s
t hat he r egar ds t hese as anyt hi ng mor e t han hel pful anal ogi es. Per haps Paul ' s
uni que assessment of t he cosmol ogi cal i mpl i cat i ons of t he Fal l ( see bel ow)
pr ecl uded i deal i zed specul at i on about such cor r es pondences .
3 0
I n any case,
Paul does not descr i be t he or der of t he cos mos i n t er ms of its i nt ernal st ruct ural
cohesi on.
One pas s age, however , yi el ds s ome evi dence, al bei t i ndi rect , t hat Paul con-
cei ved of a di vi nel y or dai ned hi er ar chy of rel at i onshi ps as a par t of t he cr eat ed
order. We have al r eady had occasi on t o ment i on Rom. 1.25, wher e Paul mai n-
t ai ns t hat humani t y offered wor s hi p t o creat ed bei ngs i nst ead of God, t o wh o m
it was ri ght ful l y due; ' t hey wor s hi pped and ser ved t he creat i on r at her t han t he
cr eat or ' (koefiaoQryoav Kal kXixpewav xf\ K T L O L i rapa t o v Ki i o a v i a ) . Paul
is pr obabl y consci ousl y al l udi ng t o Deut . 4. 19a her e:
3 1
' Do not l ook up at t he
heavens and, seei ng t he sun, moon, and st ars, t he ent i re host of heaven, b ow
down and ser ve t h e m. . . ' (LXX: iTpooKUViioqg amoiQ Kal Aai pcuor i g auxol g) .
If so, Paul ma y al so have Deut . 4. 19b in mi nd: ' . . . all t he t hi ngs [i. e. t he sun,
moon and st ars] whi ch t he Lor d your God has assigned (or "al l ot t ed"; MT:
p ^ n , LXX: aiTOvepa)) t o all t he peopl es ever ywher e under heaven' . Cl earl y,
29. Adams, Constructing the World, pp. 64-7, identifies five features of Hellenistic cosmol-
ogy that would have enjoyed widespread cultural dissemination and affirmation: (1) the cosmos
is characterized by order; (2) the cosmos is marked by unity; (3) the cosmos is an object of
beauty; (4) human beings are related to the cosmos as microcosm to macrocosm; (5) the cosmos
is an object of praise. Paul certainly would have agreed with (1) and (2), though he would have
modified them to account for the effects of sin. There is no reason to think he would have objected
to (3), though he nowhere takes up the topic. His strong allegiance to Jewish monotheism would
probably have led him to modify (4) and (5) to avoid their pantheistic presuppositions. See
below.
30. Cf. Kasemann, Romer, pp. 35-6.
31. Cf. C. E. B. Cranfield, Romans (ICC; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1975), 1:124.
98 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
Deut . 4. 19 envi si ons a hi er ar chy i n whi ch humani t y wor s hi ps God and t he
cos mos ser ves humani t y, par t i cul ar l y by enabl i ng humani t y t o wor s hi p God
properl y. Thi s becomes cl ear whe n we r emember t hat from an OT cul t i c per-
spect i ve t he heavenl y l umi nar i es coul d be wr ongl y us ed as obj ect s of wor s hi p,
t he ver y t hi ng pr ohi bi t ed i n Deut . 4. 19, or ri ght l y us ed t o r egul at e t he pr oper
t i mes for t he wor s hi p of t he one t r ue God.
3 2
I f t hi s t heol ogy of wor s hi p forms
t he backgr ound for Paul ' s del i ber at i ons i n Rom. 1. 20-25, t hen he vi ews idolatry,
whi ch he has i n vi ew her e (cf. Rom. 1. 23),
3 3
not mer el y as a di spl acement of t he
Cr eat or from hi s ri ght ful posi t i on at t he pi nnacl e of t he hi er ar chy of creat i on,
but as a compl et e i nver si on of its pr oper order.
Paul al so al l udes t o t he subor di nat e r ol e of t he cos mos wi t h r espect t o
humani t y i n Ro m. 8. 20.
3 4
I n a r at her cr ypt i c r emar k he st at es t hat ' cr eat i on
wa s subj ect ed t o fut i l i t y' (if) yap | i ar ai 6i ; r | Ti f) K T L O L C ; bitezayr\) becaus e of
t he Fal l .
3 5
By ' cr eat i on' ( K T L O L C ; ) Paul means t he ent i re s ubhuman creat i on,
essent i al l y t he equi val ent of t he moder n concept of ' na t ur e ' .
3 6
The futility t hat
Paul has i n mi nd shoul d pr obabl y be const r ued as cr eat i on' s ' frust rat i on of not
bei ng abl e pr oper l y t o fulfill t he pur pos e of its exi s t ence' .
3 7
Si nce t he futility of
cr eat i on is r el at ed t o its ' bondage t o decay' i n Rom. 8. 21, it s eems l i kel y t hat
Paul under st ands t he pur pos e t hat cr eat i on wa s ori gi nal l y or dai ned by God t o
fulfil t o have been t hat of sust ai ni ng life, especi al l y huma n life, so t hat human-
ity, in t urn, coul d fulfil its r ol e wi t h r espect t o God.
6. Sin has brought about the disruption of the divinely ordained hierarchy of
relationships between God
t
humanity and the cosmos. Paul does not comment
on t he ori gi n of si n, except t o acknowl edge in Rom. 5. 12 t hat it ' ent er ed t he
32. The reference to the sun, moon and stars being allotted to humanity calls to mind Gen.
1.14 which emphasizes that the heavenly luminaries were created not only to give light, but also
for the determination of 'seasons, days and years' (D^tfl nwb') D'HIttD). Early Jewish sources
understood these terms to refer to the regulation of the calendar in order to insure that weekly
Sabbaths ('days'), yearly festivals ('seasons'), and Sabbath and Jubilee years ('years') were held
at the proper time. Cf. e.g. 1QS 1.13-15; 1 En. 82.7-10; Jub. 2.8-10; also Wenham, Genesis
1-15, p. 23; James C. VanderKam, Calendars in the Dead Sea Scrolls: Measuring Time (London:
Routledge, 1998), pp. 3-4.
33. Paul's description of idols in Rom. 1.23 contains allusions to Deut. 4.16-18.
34. In the discussion of Rom. 8.20 here and of Rom. 8.18-22 below, I am drawing on my
analysis of the passage in J. White, Die Erstlingsgabe im Neuen Testament (TANZ 45; Tubingen:
Francke, 2007), pp. 171-S2.
35. It is generally agreed that Paul is interacting with Gen. 3.17-19 here. Cf. the references in
White, Erstlingsgabe, p. 177, n. 561; as well as Adams, Constructing the World, p. 174; and H. A.
Hahne, The Corruption and Redemption of Creation: Nature in Romans 8:19-22 and Jewish
Apocalyptic Literature (LBS; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2006), p. 189. Hahne's study was not yet
available to me when I wrote my analysis of Rom. 8.18-22 in Erstlingsgabe. I find myself in
substantial agreement with his exegesis throughout
36. Cf. Hahne, Corruption, p. 180.
37. Cranfield,/tomo/is, 1:413.
6. Romans, Corinthians, Galatians 99
wor l d t hr ough one ma n ' (81' h/OQ dvOpoiiTou f| d | i a p t i a eiQ xbv KOO\IOV el of |
kfkv), t her eby accept i ng its pr esence as an est abl i shed fact of t he post l apsari an
wor l d. That t he i nt r oduct i on of si n i nt o t he wor l d has di sr upt ed t he r el at i onshi p
bet ween God and humani t y is cl earl y one of Paul ' s maj or t hemes ( and i ndeed
of t he Bi bl e as a whol e) . I wi l l not di scuss it her e except t o not e t hat from Paul ' s
cosmol ogi cal per spect i ve, si n seri ousl y i nt erferes wi t h t he accompl i s hment of
God' s pur pos e i n cr eat i ng t he wor l d, whi ch as we not ed i n t enet #3 i nvol ved
br i ngi ng gl or y t o hi msel f. Thi s he i nt ended t o accompl i s h by i mpar t i ng hi s
own gl or y t o humani t y (cf. Rom. 8. 18, 21) and t her eby mul t i pl yi ng it (cf.
Rom. 8. 29-30), but t he uni versal i t y of huma n si n cal l s t hi s pl an i nt o quest i on:
' Al l have si nned and fall short of t he gl or y of God' ( Rom. 3. 23). As we wi l l
see, Paul ' s cosmol ogi cal nar r at i ve concl udes by pr ovi di ng an ans wer t o t hi s
t heodi cy.
Paul ' s mos t uni que cont r i but i on t o NT cos mol ogy, however , sur f aces i n
Rom. 8. 18- 22.
3 8
1 not ed t he pos i t i ve pr es uppos i t i ons r egar di ng t he r ol e of t he
c os mos i n t he cr eat ed or der t hat under gi r d Paul ' s s t at ement i n Rom. 8. 20 above,
but hi s concer n i n t he l ar ger pas s age, t o whi ch we n o w t ur n our at t ent i on, is
t o hi ghl i ght t he negat i ve effect t hat si n has had on t he cos mos . I n Rom. 8. 18
Paul st at es hi s t hesi s: Bel i ever s ' pr es ent sufferi ngs ar e i nsi gni f i cant c ompa r e d
t o t hei r fut ure gl ory. I under s t and Ro m. 8. 19- 25 as t he first of t hr ee ar gument s
s uppor t i ng t hi s t hesi s. It i s des i gned t o s how t he f undament al or i ent at i on of
bot h cr eat i on ( Rom. 8. 19- 22) and bel i ever s ( Rom. 8. 23- 25) t o t he fut ure gl or y
t hat awai t s t he bel i ever s . I n Rom. 8. 19, a br i ef but c ompl e x s ent ence t hat
ut i l i zes t hr ee di fferent figures of s peech ( per soni f i cat i on, enal l age and pl eo-
na s m) , Paul expr es s es hi s convi ct i on t hat ' t he eager expect at i on of cr eat i on
eager l y awai t s t he r evel at i on of t he s ons of Go d ' (f) yap di r oi capaSoKi a tfjg
K T L O G ) < ; rf)v diTOKdAui|/ LV T( 3v ul ( 3v T O O OeoO dTT6K5^6T(xL). The r eas on
t hat Paul gi ves for cr eat i on' s ant i ci pat i on i s, as we s aw above, t hat ' cr eat i on
wa s subj ect ed t o fut i l i t y' ( Rom. 8. 20) and finds i t sel f i n ' bonda ge t o de c a y'
( Rom. 8. 21), so t hat it can n o l onger fulfil its God- gi ven pur pos e, t hat of
s us t ai ni ng ( human) life, a per s pect i ve he ma y have gl eaned from Isa. 24. 1 - 6 .
3 9
Thi s i s t r ue becaus e si n has ent er ed t he wor l d, br i ngi ng about deat h (cf. Rom.
5. 12; 8. 10). Paul i s qui ck t o add i n Rom. 8. 20b t hat cr eat i on di d not wi l l i ngl y
r el i nqui s h its God- or dai ned t ask, but wa s cons t r ai ned t o do so by God hi ms el f
(ou% eKoOoa aXXa 8i<x xov i mo i d ^ a v i a ) . Paul is al l udi ng, of cour s e, t o God' s
cur s e on t he gr ound i n Gen. 3. 17, but he adds a not e of hope ( Rom. 8. 20b:
e Am5 i ) not pr es ent i n t he Genes i s account : Go d subj ect ed cr eat i on t o futil-
38. W. Bindemann, Die Hoffnung der Schopfung: Romer 8,18-27 und die Frage nach einer
Theologie der Befreiung von Mensch und Natur (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener, 1983),
p. 175, notes that, although Paul draws on various apocalyptic motifs in this passage, it is, taken
as a whole, without parallel.
39. Cf. Hahne, Corruption, p. 194.
100 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
i t y wi t h a vi ew t owar d her fixture r est or at i on wh e n cr eat i on wi l l be l i ber at ed
from t he bonda ge s he pr es ent l y endur es ( Rom. 8. 21). Unt i l t hen, however ,
t he ent i r e cr eat i on ' gr oans and suffers bi r t h p a n g s ' ( Rom. 8. 23: O U O T E V A C E I
Kal o\)V(d5ivei). He r e Paul us es a combi nat i on of OT a nd J ewi s h apocal ypt i c
met aphor s t o i nt ensi fy t he s ens e of ant i ci pat i on he has al r eady as cr i bed t o
cr eat i on i n Rom. 8. 19. The c os mos has suffered t he di s as t r ous cons equences
of si n and year ns j us t as mu c h as bel i ever s do ( hi s poi nt i n Rom. 8. 23- 25) t o
be l i ber at ed from t hem.
Paul ' s congeni al personi fi cat i on of t he cos mos i n Rom. 8. 19-22 as a passi ve
vi ct i m of si n awai t i ng r edempt i on is not t he whol e story, however . Ther e is
al so, s o t o speak, a dar k si de t o t he cos mos t hat has been unl eas hed by si n.
Paul al l udes t o it in Gal . 4. 3 wher e he speaks of t he ' el ement s of t he wor l d'
( r a OTOixeta t o u Koopou; cf. Col . 2 . 8 , 2 0 ) ,
4 0
and i n Gal . 4. 9 wher e he refers
t o t he ' we a k and i mpover i s hed e l e me nt s ' (doOevf] Kal t t t qx ^ O X O I X E T A ) .
Schol ar l y di scussi on of t he t er m has engender ed ma ny pr oposal s concer ni ng
its backgr ound and meani ng t hat we cannot t ake t he t i me t o di scuss her e.
4 1
The
t hree maj or i nt erpret i ve opt i ons t ake t he t er m t o me a n ei t her ' el ement s ' i n t he
physi cal sense of t he t e r m
4 2
or as an abst ract i on, denot i ng ei t her s omet hi ng
i mper sonal such as ' r udi ment ar y pr i nci pl es of t he wo r l d '
4 3
or somet hi ng essen-
t i al l y demoni c l i ke ' el ement ar y spi ri t ual p owe r s ' .
4 4
I n my opi ni on, t he l at t er of
t he t hr ee is pr obabl y correct si nce Paul equat es t he ' we a k and i mpover i shed
el ement s ' i n Gal . 4. 9 wi t h ' t hos e t hat ar e by nat ur e not g ods ' ( xol g (J)U0i
pf) o C o l v QeoiQ) i n Gal . 4. 8, t o wh o m t he Gent i l e bel i ever s i n Gal at i a wer e
f ormerl y ensl aved. He expr esses hi s concer n t hat t hose bel i ever s are i n danger
of ' t ur ni ng back t o t hem agai n' (ir(3<; 6iuoTp(j)T i r a Xi v. . . ; t he s ame ver b is
us ed t o descr i be t he conver si on of t he bel i evers i n Thessal oni ca from i dol at ry
t o t he wor s hi p of t he ' l i vi ng and t r ue God' in 1 Thes s . 1.9). Paul ' s l anguage
cal l s t o mi nd hi s char act er i zat i on of i dol s as ' so- cal l ed gods ' ( Aeyopevoi 0Oi)
in 1 Cor. 8. 5, and l at er in 1 Cor i nt hi ans Paul acknowl edges t he real exi st ence
of demons behi nd t hese i dol s (cf. 1 Cor. 10. 20- 21) .
4 5
Thus , t he t er m O T O I X E I A
mos t l i kel y denot es demoni c power s of s ome sort and is r oughl y s ynonymous
wi t h mor e charact eri st i cal l y Paul i ne t er ms such as ' r ul er s ' , ' aut hor i t i es' , and
40. The term was probably coined by Paul. Cf. G. Delling, 'axoixeiov', TDNT1: 666-87.
41. For an overview cf. P. T. O'Brien, * A Note on the "Elements of the Universe" (OTOix^la
T O U Koapou)', in Colossians, Philemon (WBC 44; Waco: Word, 1982), pp. 129-32.
42. Cf. E. Schweitzer, 'Die "Elemente der Welf * Gal 4,3.9; Kol 2,8.20', in O. Bocher und
K. Haacker (eds), Verborum Veritas: Festschrift Gustav Stdhlin (Wupppertal: Brockhaus, 1970),
pp. 245-59.
43. Cf. e.g. Delling, 'OTOixeloi>', pp. 683-5; R. N. Longenecker, Galatians (WBC 41; Dallas:
Word, 1990), pp. 165-6.
44. Cf. H. Lietzmann, An die Galater (2nd edn; HNT 10; Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1923),
p. 24; H. D. Betz, Galatians (Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979), pp. 205,215.
45. Cf. Adams, Constructing the World, p. 230.
6. Romans, Corinthians, Galatians 101
' powe r s ' (apxal, e o i x n a i , 8uva| i ei g; compar e Rom. 8. 38; 1 Cor. 15. 24 wi t h
Eph. 1. 21; 3. 10; 6. 10; Col . 1.16; 2. 10, 15) .
I n what sense does Paul vi ew t hese power s as ' el ement al ' , and what i s t hei r
rel at i onshi p t o t he cos mos ? Anal ysi s of Paul ' s us e of o x o i x e l a i n Gal . 4. 3, 9
yi el ds i nt ri gui ng ans wer s t o t hese quest i ons. To begi n wi t h, it is cl ear t hat Paul
has J ews i n mi nd whe n he says i n Gal . 4. 3 t hat ' we wer e under t he el ement s
of t he wor l d' , for he equat es t hi s st at e wi t h bei ng ' under t he l aw' in Gal . 4. 5.
In Gal . 4. 9, however , Paul cl earl y has Gent i l es i n vi ew whe n he expr esses hi s
concer n about t hei r possi bl e r e- ensl avement t o t he we a k and i mpover i s hed el e-
ment s . I n Gal . 4. 10 he descr i bes t hi s ensl avement as ' keepi ng days and mont hs
and seasons and year s ' (rpepac; i r apaTTpet oGe Kai |if|va<; Kai Katpoix; Kai
e a a uxo i x; ) . As we not ed above (cf. n. 38) , t he OT creat i on account assi gns
t he heavenl y l umi nar i es t he t ask of r egul at i ng sacr ed feasts and hol i days. What
Gen. 1.14 r egar ds as an ai d t o t he pr oper wor s hi p of God, however , evol ved
into a pr eoccupat i on in earl y J udai s m wi t h t he cul t i c cal endar. ' Cal endar pi et y'
move d t o t he ver y cent r e of J ewi s h rel i gi ous l i f e,
4 6
and cel ebrat i ng t he feast s on
t he cor r ect days became t he obsessi on of var i ous gr oups i n t he Second Templ e
per i od, not t o ment i on one of t he mai n t opi cs of i nt ra- Jewi sh pol emi c.
4 7
Agai ns t
t hi s backgr ound Paul ' s vi gor ous rej ect i on of t he J udai zer s ' demand t hat Gent i l e
bel i ever s i n Gal at i a t reat t he cul t i c cal endar as a mat t er of rel i gi ous obl i gat i on
makes sense. I f Gent i l e bel i ever s wer e t o accede t o it, t hey woul d r un t he risk
of ' put t i ng t hems el ves i n bondage t o t he forces t hat cont r ol t he cal endar ' ,
4 8
i.e.,
t ur ni ng back t o t he gods behi nd t he heavenl y l umi nar i es t hat they had f ormerl y
s er ved.
4 9
It i s, t o be sure, not hi ng l ess t han st art l i ng t hat Paul i mpl i ci t l y equat es
not onl y pagan wor s hi p of t he heavenl y l i ght s but al so l egal i st i c obs er vance
of t he J ewi s h cul t i c cal endar wi t h bondage t o t he o x o i x e t a . Still, it is readi l y
under st andabl e why Paul woul d ma ke this bol d rhet ori cal move, gi ven hi s
assumpt i ons about t he God- or dai ned pur pos e of creat i on as a cat al yst t o t he
wor s hi p of God i n Rom. 1.20-25 ( see above) . He r egar ds bot h J ewi s h cal endar
pi et y and pagan wor s hi p of t he sun, moon, st ars, and pl anet s as a mi s us e of t he
heavenl y l umi nar i es si nce bot h det ract from t he wor s hi p of t he one true God.
7. God will restore the cosmos to its original purpose and role by recreating
it We have al r eady ment i oned Paul ' s uni que per spect i ve on t he pr edi cament of
cr eat i on i n t he post l apsar i an wor l d. We s aw t hat Paul i nferred from hi s r eadi ng
46. Cf. F. Mussner, Der Galaterbrief (HTKNT; Freiburg: Herder, 1974), pp. 298-301. The
term 'calendar piety' translates Mussner's 'Kalendarfrommigkeit' (cf. p. 299).
47. Cf. K. Koch and U. Glessmer, 'Neumonds-Neujahr oder Vollmonds-Neujahr? Zu sp&tis-
raelitischen Kalendar-Theologen', in Antikes Judentum und Fruhes Christentum (FS Hartmut
Stegemann; BZNW 97; Berlin: de Gruyter, 1999), pp. 116-17.
48. F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Galatians (NIGTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982),
p. 204.
49. Cf. Mussner, Galaterbrief, p. 302.
102 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
of Gen. 3. 17 t hat t he cos mos wa s ' subj ect ed t o fut i l i t y' by God (cf. Rom. 8. 20),
but t hat he added a not e of hope not det ect abl e i n t he Genes i s account . Paul
descr i bes t he r eason for hi s hope i n Rom. 8. 21: ' cr eat i on i t sel f wi l l be l i ber-
at ed from its bondage t o decay' (can;f| r) K T L O K ; 6A,i)0pa)0iiOTai d u o tf|<;
5ouA.ia<; XX\Q (| )9opaq). Though hi s l anguage is s omewhat el usi ve at t hi s poi nt ,
t her e can be little doubt t hat he has i n mi nd t he I sai ani c pr omi s e of t he r e-
creat i on of t he cos mos (cf. Isa. 43. 18- 19; 65. 17; 66. 22) . In earl y J ewi s h t ext s
' ne w cr eat i on' (Koavr) K T L O I C ; ) be c a me t he st andar d t er m denot i ng t hi s concept
(cf. e. g. Jub. 4. 26) .
5 0
Paul us es it t wi ce, once i n 2 Cor. 5. 17 t o descr i be what
happens at conver si on and once i n Gal . 6. 15 t o char act er i ze what has r epl aced
t he al l - i mpor t ant di vi si on bet ween J ews and Gent i l es. We wi l l di scuss t he si g-
ni fi cance of t hose t ext s present l y. Her e we mer el y not e t hat 2 Cor. 5. 17 cont ai ns
an unmi s t akabl e al l usi on t o Isa. 43. 18- 19
5 1
and possi bl y 65. 17,
5 2
hi ghl i ght i ng
t he cruci al rol e t he concept of ne w cr eat i on pl ays i n Paul ' s t heol ogy. It i s t hi s
hope t hat i nf orms Paul ' s expect at i on t hat t he cos mos wi l l be l i berat ed from t he
bondage t o decay.
Paul never descr i bes t he r enewal of t he cos mos per se, but it i s r eadi l y appar -
ent t hat he expect ed t hat it woul d resul t i n t he r econst i t ut i on of pr oper r el at i on-
shi p bet ween humani t y and creat i on. I n hi s di scussi on of t he r esur r ect i on of t he
body i n 1 Cor. 15. 50- 57 he envi si ons a t r ansf or med wor l d i n whi ch bel i ever s '
bodi es wi l l be i ncor r upt i bl e and i mmor t al becaus e deat h i t sel f wi l l have been
over come. Thus , hi s ar gument pr es uppos es t hat creat i on wi l l once agai n be
enabl ed t o fulfil i t s God- gi ven r ol e of s us t ai ni ng h u ma n life i ndefi ni t el y. Paul
al so foresees t he r e- est abl i shment of humani t y' s domi ni on over t he eart h (cf.
Gen. 1.28). I n an i nt ri gui ngl y expans i ve i nt erpret at i on of God' s pr omi s e t o gi ve
Abr aham and hi s descendant s t he l and of Canaan i n per pet ui t y (cf. Gen. 12. 7;
13. 15; 17. 8), Paul ar gues i n Rom. 4. 15 t hat God had, i n fact, pr omi s ed t o ma ke
Abr a ha m t he hei r of t he ent i re cos mos ( t o KAr | PO V 6 | ! OV a u t o v e l v a t K O O | I O U ) .
Si nce he redefines Abr aham' s descendant s t o mean all wh o bel i eve in t he s ame
manner as Abr aham, whet her ci r cumci sed or unci r cumci s ed ( Rom. 4. 11- 12) ,
t here can be little doubt t hat he vi ews bel i ever s as t he fut ure hei r s of t he cos mos .
They wi l l no l onger ser ve cr eat ed t hi ngs (cf. Rom. 1.25). I n fact, t he cos mos
has al r eady been put at t hei r di sposal (cf. 1 Cor. 3. 22), t her eby r est or i ng huma n-
i t y' s aut hori t y over cr eat i on.
5 3
Even n o w bel i evers are no l onger subj ect t o t he
50. Cf. U. Mell, Neue Schopfung: eine traditionsgeschichtliche und exegetische Studie zu
einem soteriologischen Grundsatzpaulinischer Theologie (BZNW 56; Berlin: de Gruyter, 1989),
p. 254.
51. Cf. F. Wilk, Die Bedeutung des Jesajabuches fur Paulus (FRLANT 179; G6ttingen: Van-
denhoeck & Ruprecht, 1998), pp. 276-7.
52. Gregory K. Beale, 'The Old Testament Background of Reconciliation in 2 Corinthians
5-7 and its Bearing on the Literary Problem of 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 \ NTS 35 (1989), 552-6.
53. Cf. C. K. Barrett, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (HNTC; Peabody: Hendrickson,
1968), p. 96.
6. Romans, Corinthians, Galatians 103
el ement ar y spi ri t s, t hose demoni c power s of t he cos mos t hat wer e unl eas hed b y
si n and hel d t hem i n bondage unt i l t he comi ng of Chri st (cf. Rom. 8. 38), and
one day t hey wi l l sit i n j udge me nt over t hem (cf. 1 Cor. 6. 3) .
5 4
8. The restoration of the cosmos has already begun with the resurrection
of Christ.
55
Just as Chri st wa s t he medi at or of t he ori gi nal cr eat i on, s o he is
al so t he medi at or of t he n e w creat i on. For Paul , however , n e w cr eat i on is not
s omet hi ng t hat he expect ed t o t ake pl ace onl y i n t he fut ure. Rat her it has al r eady
begun wi t h t he r esur r ect i on of Jesus. Thi s is i mpl i ed by Paul ' s st at ement i n 1
Cor. 15. 45 t hat by vi rt ue of hi s r esur r ect i on ' t he last Ad a m be c a me t he life-
gi vi ng Spi ri t ' (6 eoxaxoQ ' ASa p eiQ n v e u p a C C D O I T O I O I H / ) .
5 6
i t follows, as wel l ,
from t wo st andar d bel i efs of J ewi s h apocal ypt i c t hat Paul woul d have shar ed
(cf. n. 10). Fi rst , r esur r ect i on is a uni fi ed concept ; i n earl y J udai s m t her e is
onl y ' t he r esur r ect i on' , not ma n y i ndi vi dual r esur r ect i ons (cf. Mk 12. 23 par. ;
Lk. 14. 14; Jn 5. 29; 11. 24; Act s 4. 2) . Ther ef or e t he resurrect i on of Jesus coul d
not be vi ewed as an i sol at ed event ; rat her, it wa s t he begi nni ng of the escha-
t ol ogi cal r esur r ect i on of t he dead. Paul makes t hi s connect i on expl i ci t i n hi s
charact eri zat i on of Chri st as t he 'firstfruits from a mong t he dead' ( di rapxf ] t ( 3v
KKOiprpVG)v 1 Cor. 15. 20) .
5 7
Second, r esur r ect i on is i next r i cabl y l i nked t o
t he concept of ne w creat i on (cf. Ezek. 36. 16- 30; 37. 14) .
5 8
That Paul associ at es
resurrect i on wi t h n e w cr eat i on is cl ear i n Rom. 4. 17, wher e he equat es God' s
' gi vi ng life t o t he dead' ( C G O O T O I O U V T O C ; T O I X ; VKpou<;) wi t h creatio ex nihilo.
The l i nk is al so i mpl i ci t i n Rom. 8. 23, t hough it has been over l ooked becaus e
schol ars have, i n my opi ni on, mi s under s t ood t he referent of t he ' firstfruits of
t he Spi ri t ' (anapxT) t o u we u p a t o c ; ) . I n my earl i er anal ysi s of t he p h r a s e ,
5 9
1
ar gued t hat t o u n v e u p a t o g i s not , as gener al l y as s umed, a genitivus epexege-
ticus t hat equat es ' fi rst frui t s' wi t h t he Spi ri t , but r at her a genitivus auctoris t hat
54. It seems likely that Paul has evil angels in mind in Rom. 8.38 since (1) benevolent angels
would hardly constitute a threat to believers' fellowship with Christ, and (2) the term Oiyy^oi
is paired with APX AI (cf. Col. 2.15), Paul's most frequent term for denoting demonic powers (cf.
Dunn, Romans 1-8, p. 507). It is also probable that Paul is thinking of evil angels in 1 Cor. 6.3 and
is drawing on an apocalyptic motif that envisions their judgement (cf. Schrage, IKor 6,12-11,16,
p. 411; Fee, Corinthians, p. 234). The C RROI X E LA would certainly be among them.
55. It is clear that, at this point in the 'cosmological narrative', Paul's cosmology and eschatol-
ogy become inextricably intertwined so that we must, despite our caveat (cf. pp. 91-2), treat them
together. Still, our emphasis will continue to be on the particular contribution of cosmological
elements.
56. Cf. R. B. Gaflfin, Jr., Resurrection and Redemption: A Study in Paul's Soteriology (2nd
edn; Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1987), pp. 78-92.
57. Cf. my extensive analysis of diTapXTl in 1 Cor. 15.20-28 in White, Erstlingsgabe, pp.
109-^3.
58. Cf. W. Schrage, 'Schopfung und Neuschopfung in Kontinuitat und Diskontinuitat bei
Paulus', in Studien zur Theologie im 1. Korintherbrief (BThSt 94; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirch-
ener, 2007), p. 132.
59. Cf. White, Erstlingsgabe, pp. 182-93.
104
Cosmology and New Testament Theology
bear s t he connot at i on ' firstfruits br ought about by t he Spi ri t ' . I furt her sought
t o demons t r at e t hat ' fi rst frui t s' i s an i nt ra-t ext ual al l usi on t o 1 Cor. 15. 20, one
t hat Aqui l a and Pri sci l l a ( and per haps ot hers among t he r eci pi ent s of Romans ,
especi al l y Epaenet us ; cf. Rom. 16. 5b) woul d have readi l y r ecogni zed, havi ng
be c ome t hor oughl y fami l i ar wi t h Paul ' s t eachi ng on t he r esur r ect i on i n Cor i nt h
and Ephes us (cf. Act s 18. 2; Rom. 16. 3-5a; 1 Cor. 16. 9), and t hus refers t o t he
r esur r ect ed Chri st . The poi nt of Rom. 8. 23 woul d t hen be t hat , si nce bel i ever s
have t he Spi ri t wh o r ai sed Chri st from t he dead (cf. Rom. 8. 11; t hi s expl ai ns
t he genitivus auctoris) and i ndeed have wi t nessed t he begi nni ng of the resur-
rect i on i n Chri st , t hey l ong for i t s compl et i on, namel y t he ' l i ber at i on' of then-
own mor t al bodi es . Under s t ood i n t hi s way, t he i mpl i cat i on of Paul ' s ar gument
in Rom. 8. 19-23 is t hat t he resurrect i on of Chr i st has set eschat ol ogi cal ne w
creat i on i n mot i on and t hat , as a resul t , bot h t he cos mos and bel i ever s l ong t o
exper i ence its ul t i mat e fulfilment.
Paul ' s per spect i ve t hat n e w cr eat i on has al r eady begun wi t h t he resurrect i on
of Jesus mar ks , of cour se, a si gni fi cant poi nt of depar t ur e from J ewi s h apoca-
l ypt i c t heol ogy and resul t s i n s ome i mport ant modi fi cat i ons t o t he convent i onal
t wo- age apocal ypt i c scenari o. The ' al r eady and not yet ' charact er of ne w creat i on
i n t he NT has been abl y descr i bed by ot her s ,
6 0
so it needs no further expl anat i on
her e. For Paul , t hi s has t r emendous i mpl i cat i ons for t he wa y bel i ever s shoul d
l i ve i n t he pr esent . Thi s i s per haps cl earest i n 1 Cor. 7. 29- 31: The ' compr es s i on'
of t he pr esent age ( so l i t eral l y 1 Cor. 7. 29a: 6 Koapcx; owe ot a Aj j i voc ; O T L V )
6 1
has r esul t ed i n its over l appi ng wi t h t he age t o c ome ,
6 2
so t hat t he f undament al
soci et al i nst i t ut i ons des i gned for each age - mar r i age and fami l y for t he f ormer
and cel i bacy for t he l at t er ( compar e 1 Cor. 7. 32-34 wi t h J es us ' t eachi ng i n Mk
12. 25 par. ) - ar e bot h oper at i ve i n t he present . Bel i ever s ' assessment s of t hei r
own exper i ences of j oy and sor r ow as wel l as t hei r at t i t udes t owar ds acqui si -
t i ons shoul d reflect t hi s spi ri t ual reality. They are free t o ma ke us e of all t hat
huma n soci et y has t o offer, but t hey shoul d do so wi t h a meas ur e of det achment ,
si nce ' t he f orm of t hi s wor l d' (1 Cor. 7.3 l b : t o O X F | | i a xoO K O O J I O U T O U T O U ) , i.e.
t he ' soci al l y const r uct ed wor l d' i n t he sense t hat Ber ger t al ks about (cf. n. 5) ,
is pas s i ng away. Cl earl y, t hi s i mpl i es t hat Paul i s us i ng K O O | i o g t o refer not t o
t he physi cal wor l d but t o huma n soci et y, an i nference t hat fits wel l i n t he l arger
cont ext of Paul ' s di scussi on of t he rel at i ve desi rabi l i t y of changi ng one' s soci al ,
economi c, or r el i gi ous st at i on (cf. 1 Cor. 7. 17- 31) . Never t hel ess, hi s ar gument
pr es umes t hat t he pr omi s ed t r ansf or mat i on of t he cos mos has begun and t hat
60. Cf. esp. G. K. Beale, 'The Eschatological Conception of New Testament Theology', in
K. E. Brower and M. W. Elliott (eds), The Reader Must Understand: Eschatology in Bible and
Theology (Leicester: Apollos, 1997), pp. 12-28.
61. Cf. Fee, Corinthians, p. 339, n. 14.
62. This is possibly the meaning behind the cryptic phrase in 1 Cor. 10.11 that 'the ends of
the ages' (T& xekx] x&v aloovoov) have come upon us. So similarly D. E. Garland, 1 Corinthians
(ECNT; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003), p. 465.
6. Romans, Corinthians, Galatians 105
t herefore t he soci al cat egori es desi gned for t he pr esent age have al r eady st art ed
t o l ose t hei r si gni f i cance.
6 3
Par amount a mong t hese for Paul i s wi t hout quest i on t he f undament al cov-
enant al di vi si on bet ween J ews and Gent i l es. We have al r eady exami ned t he
bol d move Paul makes i n Gal at i ans by r el egat i ng strict obs er vance of ri t ual
aspect s of t he Torah t o t he r eal m of o i o i x e l a . Paul cont i nues i n t hat vei n,
cl ai mi ng i n Gal . 6. 15 t hat ' nei t her ci r cumci si on nor unci r cumci si on ar e of any
account ' (ofrte yap TTpiTO|iii T L koxiv o i k e ( k p o Pu o Ti a ) and i mpl yi ng t hat
t hi s di vi si on bel ongs t o t he ' wor l d' ( here, t oo, i n t he sense of soci et y' s mor es
and nor ms ) , whi ch has no furt her r el evance for hi m (cf. Gal . 6. 14). Thos e ol d
covenant st ruct ures have been r epl aced by a ne w st andar d (KavoSv), t hat of
t he i naugur at ed ne w creat i on ( Gal . 6. 15: Koavr) KTIOIQ), and by t hi s st andar d
me mbe r s of t he ' I sr ael of God' , whi ch i ncl udes bot h J ews and Gent i l es uni t ed
by faith i n Jesus Chri st , ar e al r eady or der i ng t hei r l i ves ( compar e Gal . 6. 16 wi t h
Gal . 3. 26- 28) .
Paul ' s r adi cal negat i on of t he di vi si on bet ween J e ws and Gent i l es , at l east
wi t h r egar d t o sot er i ol ogy, ma ke s per f ect s ens e wh e n we cons i der t hat he
vi ews conver s i on i t sel f as i naugur al par t i ci pat i on i n t he n e w cr eat i on. Thi s i s
t he f orce of 2 Cor. 5. 17a, t hough i t s s ens e i s oft en obs cur ed behi nd i ndi vi dual -
i zi ng t r ansl at i ons i n t he t r adi t i on of t he Ki ng J a me s Versi on: ' Ther ef or e i f
any ma n be i n Chr i st , he i s a n e w cr eat ur e' . A bet t er r ender i ng woul d al mos t
cer t ai nl y be: ' Ther ef or e i f anyone i s i n Chr i st , it i s n e w cr eat i on' ( ( 3 O T e i
XIQ kv XpiOTCij), K O A V F I K T L O K ; ) .
6 4
Si nce, as not ed above, 2 Cor. 5. 17b pi cks
up t he l anguage of Isa. 43. 18- 19, t her e i s no r eas on t o as s ume t hat Paul is
s peaki ng met aphor i cal l y. Rat her he s eems t o me a n, qui t e l i t eral l y, t hat whe n
s ome one t ur ns t o Chr i st , t hi s mar ks t he begi nni ng of hi s or her par t i ci pat i on
i n t he pr omi s ed I sai ani c r enewal of t he c os mos .
6 5
To be s ur e, Paul i s eager t o
emphas i z e t hat t hi s r enewal pr es ent l y onl y affect s t he bel i ever s ' ' i nner ma n '
( 2 Cor. 4. 16: 6 0 0 ) r| | i (3v [av0po)TO(;]), but it can har dl y be doubt ed t hat he
vi ews t hi s change as a di vi ne act of r ecr eat i on, even i f it cannot b e s een (cf.
2 Cor. 4. 18) , at l east not yet .
9. The restoration of the cosmos will be completed when Christ returns. Wi t hout
quest i on, Paul ' s expect at i on t hat Chri st woul d r et ur n wa s f undament al t o hi s
t heol ogi cal out l ook (cf. Rom. 13. 11; 1 Cor. 1.7; 4. 5; 15. 23; 16. 22b; 2 Cor. 11.2
et c. ) .
6 6
Though he does not say so expl i ci t l y, hi s us e of J ewi s h apocal ypt i c
mot i f s i n 1 Cor. 15. 52- 54, not abl y t he i mage of t he last t r umpet , ma ke s cl ear
63. Cf. similarly, Adams, Constructing the World, pp. 130-6.
64. Mell, Schopfung, p. 353, argues convincingly that since Paul is making use of the quasi-
technical term Kaivr) KTLOK; here, KTLOK; should be rendered in line with standard early Jewish
usage as a nomen actionis.
65. Cf. Mell, Schopfung, pp. 368-9.
66. Cf. White, Erstlingsgabe, pp. 143-50.
106 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
t hat he awai t s t he t r ans f or mat i on of t he cos mos at t he par ous i a.
6 7
I n a me r e
mome nt n e w cr eat i on wi l l be compl et ed (1 Cor. 15. 52). Bodi es ensl aved t o
t he bondage of decay ( Rom. 8. 21) wi l l be i nst ant aneousl y t r ansf or med and
cr eat i on' s subj ect i on t o futility wi l l end. The cos mos wi l l finally be abl e t o fulfil
its God- gi ven pur pos e of sust ai ni ng huma n life forever, for deat h wi l l be swal -
l owed up i n vi ct or y (1 Cor. 15. 54). Onc e t hi s last enemy has been dest r oyed
(1 Cor. 15. 26), t hen t he pr oper hi er ar chy of rel at i onshi ps i n t he cr eat ed or der
wi l l be compl et el y r est or ed: t he cos mos wi l l be subj ect t o humani t y, humani t y
t o Chri st , t he medi at or of t he n e w creat i on, and Chri st t o God (1 Cor. 3. 21- 23) .
Al l sent i ent bei ngs , whet her i n heaven, on eart h, or bel ow t he eart h wi l l conf ess
Jesus as Lor d t o t he gl or y of God, t he Fat her (Phi l . 2. 10- 11) . Then, i n t he final
act of Paul ' s cosmol ogi cal nar r at i ve, Chri st , t o wh o m t he ent i re cos mos and all
its i nhabi t ant s have s wor n t hei r fealty, wi l l subj ect hi ms el f t o God, ' s o t hat God
ma y be all i n al l ' (1 Cor. 15. 28). Wi t h t hat , God' s pur pos e i n cr eat i on, t o br i ng
gl or y t o hi msel f, wi l l have been ut t erl y and i ncont est abl y fulfilled.
67. Cf. J. Plevnik, Paul and the Parousia: An Exegetical and Theological Investigation
(Peabody: Hendrickson, 1997), p. 168.
7
REORIENTED TO THE COSMOS:
COSMOLOGY & THEOLOGY IN EPHESIANS THROUGH PHILEMON
Ro b e r t L. Fo s t e r
Hu ma n meani ng and pur pos e emer ge in no smal l meas ur e from a per s on' s per-
cept i on of hi s or her rel at i on t o t he wor l d and its i nhabi t ant s. Part i cul ar spaces
pr ovi de si gni fi cant ori ent at i on bas ed on t he r el at i onshi ps associ at ed wi t h t hat
space, as i n t he home . Radi cal changes in space and/ or r el at i onshi p can i nduce
di sori ent at i on, as i n t he deat h of a f ami l y member , a mar r i age, or a mov e t o a
n e w pl ace. Thes e ki nds of changes r equi r e a reori ent at i on t o space and rel at i on-
shi p t hat gi ves a r enewed sense of meani ng and pur pose.
I under st and t he nat ur e of this proj ect on cosmol ogy and t heol ogy i n t he Ne w
Test ament t o i nvol ve t he expl orat i on of a ki nd of l anguage of reori ent at i on found
in t he Ne w Test ament wri t i ngs i nt ended t o facilitate a r enewed sense of meani ng
and pur pose in t he earl y Jesus communi t i es, who felt s ome di sori ent at i on i n t hei r
changed rel at i onshi p t o God, t he gods, ot her human bei ngs, and t hei r wor l d. I n
part i cul ar, we expl ore l anguage concerni ng t he st ruct ure of t he uni verse as it
pert ai ns especi al l y t o t he per son and wor ki ngs of God i n Chri st Jesus. For t hi s
essay, I us e a definition of cosmol ogy as ' t he consci ousl y ent ert ai ned i mages,
doct ri nes, and scientific vi ews of t he uni verse t hat pr ovi de a sense of its st ruc-
t ure and si gni f i cance' .
1
1 define t heol ogy as ' speaki ng of all t hi ngs in rel at i on t o
God' . Thus, t hi s essay i nvest i gat es t he l anguage used by t he aut hors of Ephesi ans
t hr ough Phi l emon t o st ruct ure
2
a vi si on of t he uni verse as it rel at es t o God as one
means of reori ent i ng t hese earl y Jesus communi t i es t owar d a r enewed sense of
life and pur pose in t hi s wor l d gi ven t hei r changed rel at i onshi ps bot h wi t h God
and wi t h t he uni verse. I shoul d not e her e t hat we wi l l i nvest i gat e ever y letter
except Phi l emon, whi ch seems devoi d of any cosmol ogi cal i magery.
1. Kees W. Bolle, 'Cosmology: An Overview', in Lindsay Jones (ed.), Encyclopedia of Reli-
gion, Vol. 3 (Detroit: Thompson/Gale, 2nd edn, 2005), p. 1992.
2. I prefer 'structure' over 'construct' because the former gives the sense of organizing pre-
existent reality (or perceived reality), whereas the latter term signifies to me the creation of reality,
a stronger claim for the use of language than I wish to make. Cf. E. Adams, Constructing the
World: A Study of Paul's Cosmological Language (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000), following P. L.
Berger and T. Luckman, The Social Construction of Reality (New York: Anchor, 1967).
108
Cosmology and New Testament Theology
Ephesians
Fr om t he out set , Paul
3
seeks t o reori ent t he Ephesi ans t o t hei r ne w pl ace i n t he
cos mos t hat t hey exper i ence becaus e of God' s wor k i n Chri st Jesus:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in
Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in
him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love
(1.3-4, NRSV).
In t hese ver ses we obser ve Paul ' s basi c di vi si on of t he cos mos i nt o t he ' heav-
enl y pl aces ' (sTroupccvioic) and t he wor l d or uni ver se ( Koopoc) .
4
What di st i n-
gui shes t he heavenl y pl aces and t he uni ver se, at l east in part , is t he fact t hat t he
heavenl y pl aces exi st ed s omet i me earl i er t han t he uni ver se. Mor e i mpor t ant l y
t o Paul ' s ar gument , i n t he spher e of t he heavenl y pl aces God wor ked i n Chri st
Jesus on behal f of t he Ephesi ans, choosi ng t hem t o be hol y and bl amel ess
before hi m i n t he pr e- exi st ent Chri st . Paul i nt roduces t he di st i nct i on bet ween
t he heavenl y pl aces and t he uni ver se t o focus t he Ephesi ans on t wo i mpor t ant
poi nt s. Fi rst , t he Ephesi ans ought t o ori ent t hemsel ves pr i mar i l y t o t he heavenl y
pl aces becaus e i n t hem t hey r ecei ve t hei r pr i mar y bl essi ngs, spi ri t ual bl essi ngs.
Second, t he pr eemi nent bl essi ng is God' s choi ce t o ma ke t hem hol y and bl ame-
less before hi m. The gener al t raj ect ory of t he l et t er t owar d t he TrapocKaAco of
4. 1 i ndi cat es t he si gni fi cance of l i st i ng t he first bl essi ng as God' s choi ce t o
ma ke t he Ephesi ans hol y and bl amel es s .
5
Though t he Ephes i ans r ecei ve numer ous bl essi ngs i n t he heavenl y pl aces
( hol i ness, adopt i on, r edempt i on, knowl edge of t he myst er y, an i nher i t ance;
1. 3-14), t he heavenl y pl aces r emai n cont es t ed space. Paul appar ent l y t hi nks
t hat t he Ephes i an ' E K K A T J O I a finds it difficult t o l i ve up t o t hei r hi gh cal l i ng ( 4. 1)
in par t becaus e t hey do not r eal i ze, or not sufficiently, t hat t hey st r uggl e pr i -
mari l y, not wi t h t he wor l d, ' agai ns t bl ood and flesh', b u t ' . . . agai nst t he r ul er s,
agai nst t he aut hor i t i es, agai nst t he cos mi c power s of t hi s pr es ent dar knes s ,
agai nst t he spi ri t ual forces of evi l i n t he heavenl y pl a c e s ' ( 6. 12) . I n t he pl ace
wher e t hey r ecei ve ever y spi ri t ual bl essi ng t hey al so st r uggl e agai nst spi ri t ual
forces of evi l .
3. For the sake of continuity, in this article I will use the name 'Paul' to refer to the authors
of all the letters under consideration, even though scholars question Paul's authorship in several
instances. The disputed books, in my mind, require individual investigation to determine author-
ship, which falls beyond the scope of this piece. I would prefer to offer a separate designation for
each author, but this would prove unwieldy.
4. I prefer the word 'universe' over 'world' given modern associations of 'world' and 'earth',
'earth' being an important half of the 'universe' in Ephesians.
5. Cf. F. J. Long, 'Learning Christ: The Dynamics of Moral Formation in Ephesians' (Paper
presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. Washington, DC, November
20,2006).
7. Ephesians through Philemon 109
By per cei vi ng t he i mpor t ance of t he heavenl y pl aces as a cont est ed space i n
t he mi nd of Paul we see t he si gni fi cance of t he ' i n Chr i st ' f or mul a of 1.3. Thi s
i s becaus e t he heavenl y pl aces are not a cont est ed space for Chri st . I n fact, God
rai sed Chri st from t he dead, seat i ng hi m at hi s right hand i n t he heavenl y pl aces
' far above all rul e and aut hori t y and power and domi ni on, and ever y n a me t hat
is named, not onl y i n t hi s age but al so i n t he age t o c ome ' ( 1. 21) . The Ephes i ans '
st ruggl e agai nst spi ri t ual forces i n t he heavenl y pl aces t akes on a ne w meani ng
gi ven t hat t hey now r ecei ve ever y spi ri t ual bl essi ng i n Chri st , wh o r ei gns over
all such rul ers and aut hori t i es and power s and domi ni ons . I n t hei r st ruggl e t o
l i ve hol y and bl amel es s l i ves, t o l i ve up t o t hei r hi gh cal l i ng, Paul reori ent s t he
Ephes i an eiocAriata t owar d at l east t hree i mpor t ant r esour ces t o ai d t hem in
t hei r st ruggl e: (1) t he spi ri t ual bl essi ngs t hey have i n Chri st Jesus, i ncl udi ng
r edempt i on ( 1. 7) ; (2) t he ver y s ame power t hat God us ed t o rai se Chr i st from
t he dead and t o cause hi m t o r ei gn over t he host i l e power s ( 1. 22) ; and (3) God' s
panopl y, whi ch t hey mus t put on t o wi t hst and t he evi l day ( 6. 10- 17) .
Though Paul di vi des t he cos mos i nt o t he heavenl y pl aces and t he uni ver se,
t here r emai ns s ome per meabi l i t y bet ween t he t wo spaces, especi al l y as t he
Ephesi ans st ruggl e i n t hi s wor l d wi t h t he spi ri t ual forces i n t he heavenl y pl aces.
Amo n g t hese spi ri t ual forces is one pr i mar y evi l per s ona t hat pl ot s agai nst t he
Ephesi ans, referred t o i n t he cl osi ng sect i on as ' t he evi l one ' ( 6. 16) . Paul i ndi -
cat es t he appar ent ' omni pr es ence' of t hi s chi ef evi l wor ker by exhor t i ng t he
Ephesi ans t o t ake up t he shi el d of faith ' i n ever y [ ci r cums t ance] ' (ev T T SO I V ) .
6
The change i n t he Ephes i ans ' ci r cumst ances becaus e of t he wor k of God i n
Chri st does not me a n t hey are not i n danger from ot her spi ri t ual forces. They
mus t not act i gnor ant l y (or per haps overconfi dent l y), but t ake u p t he shi el d of
faith (i n God; 6. 11) i n ever y ci r cumst ance.
Thi s pr i mar y evi l per s ona i s t he ' r ul er of t he power of t he ai r ' ( 2. 2) . Fur-
t her mor e, t hi s evi l per s ona exer ci ses hi s r ei gn over t hese power s i n ' t he age of
t hi s wor l d' , i n whi ch t he Ephesi ans formerl y wal ked whe n t hey wer e dead i n
t r espasses and si ns ( 2. 1) . Still, t he one wh o r ei gns over all t hese power s , i ncl ud-
i ng t hei r rul er, is Chri st , seat ed at t he right hand of God ( 1. 20- 2) . Thus , i n t he
age of t hi s wor l d, whi ch wi l l c ome t o an end ( 1. 21; 2. 2; 3. 21), t he r ul er of t he
power s of t he ai r cont i nues t o wor k among t hose wh o ar e di sobedi ent ( 2. 2) , but
t he Ephesi ans are not a mong t hese. Inst ead, t hey ar e seat ed wi t h Chr i st Jesus
( E V Xpi oxcp ' Irjoou) i n t he heavenl y pl aces ( 3. 6) , ma de i n Chri st Jesus for good
wor ks , whi ch God pl anned, i n or der t hat t hey mi ght wal k i n t hem ( 2. 10) . The
l i nk wi t h t he heavenl y pl aces, t he ' i n Chr i st ' f ormul a, t he i nvocat i on of t he pl an
of God, and t he vi si on of God ' ma ki ng' t he Ephesi ans (Tro'ir^a, 2. 10) , all s eem
6. NRSV translates this phrase as 'With all these', though in a textual note they observe
one may translate this as 'In all circumstances'. This latter option seems to fit well in the context
which instructs the readers to have their feet fitted with readiness (6.14) and to pray at all times,
with alertness and perseverance (6.18).
110 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
t o poi nt back t o 1.3-4 and t he i dea t hat i n t he heavenl y pl aces , bef or e t he foun-
dat i on of t he uni ver se, God pl anned for t he Ephes i ans t o be hol y and bl amel es s
bef ore hi m, envi si oned i n 2. 10 as wal ki ng i n good wor ks .
7
Thus , t hough t he
Ephes i ans l i ve i n t he age of t hi s wor l d, t hey exper i ence a radi cal change i n t he
heavenl y pl aces , gi ven ' i n Chr i s t ' t he powe r t o over come t he wor ks of t he evi l
power s and t hei r ruler. Thi s is s o t hat in t he age of t hi s wor l d t hey can wal k
i n good wor ks , bei ng hol y and bl amel es s bef or e God as Go d i nt ended before
creat i on.
I n Paul ' s r het or i c, par t of what ought t o i nvi gor at e t he Ephes i ans t o wal k
i n good wor ks i s t he wor k of Chr i st i n t he uni ver se (Koopoc). One aspect of
Chr i st ' s wor k wi l l emer ge i n t he fut ure. Accor di ng t o t he mys t er y r eveal ed
i n t he gospel , at t he ful l ness of t i me, Go d wi l l ' gat her up al l t hi ngs i n hi m
[ Chr i st ] , t hi ngs i n heaven and t hi ngs on ear t h' ( 1. 10) . Her e we see t he basi c
st ruct ure of t he uni ver se, a di vi si on bet ween t hat whi ch i s i n t he heavens (pi .
T O I C oupccvoi c) and t hat whi ch is upon t he eart h. What i s i mpor t ant is t hat all
t hi ngs i n t hi s uni ver se wi l l be br ought t oget her i n Chri st . On e t hi ng t hat enabl es
t he Ephes i ans t o mov e beyond t he concer ns of t hi s uni ver s e t o a focus on t he
heavenl y pl aces is t hat ever yt hi ng i n t he heavens and eart h wi l l be br ought
t oget her (i n submi ssi on) t o Chri st , wh o r ei gns i n t he heavenl y pl aces ( 1. 20- 2) .
Still, t hi s fut ure t hat br i ngs t oget her all t hi ngs i n Chr i st appar ent l y reflects
t he pr evi ous wor k of Chri st i n eart h and t he heavens . I n di scussi ng t he gifts
gi ven t o t he communi t y by whi ch t hey bui l d up one anot her ( 4. 7- 12) , Paul
i nt r oduces a quot at i on from Ps . 68. 19, ' Wh e n he as cended on hi gh, he ma de
capt i vi t y i t sel f capt i ve; he gave gifts t o hi s peopl e' ( 4. 8) . I n expl ai ni ng t hi s
quot at i on Paul ar gues t hat an ascent i mpl i es a descent , a descent he l i nks t o
J es us ' comi ng i nt o t he ' l ower par t s of t he ear t h' ( 4. 9) . However , Jesus al so
t hen as cended above all t he heavens , ' s o t hat he mi ght fill al l t hi ngs ' ( 4. 10) .
The ' l ower par t s of t he ear t h' pr obabl y does not refer t o s ome ' under wor l d' ,
but r at her serves as a spat i al t er m for Chr i st l i vi ng i n t he eart h, a l ow poi nt
compar ed t o hi s exal t ed st at us i n t he heavens .
8
Fr om a cos mol ogi cal per s pec-
t i ve it i s i mpor t ant t o not e t hat Paul envi si ons t he wor k of Chr i st i n t er ms of
t he uni ver se, bot h eart h and t he heavens . Fr om a t heol ogi cal per spect i ve one
shoul d not e t hat t he wor k effect ed t he capt ur e of capt i vi t y itself, whi ch i n t hi s
case l i kel y refers t o God r escui ng t he Ephes i ans from t hei r capt i vi t y t o t he rul er
of t he power of t he ai r and concomi t ant si n ( 2. 1- 7) .
9
Fur t her mor e, t hi s freedom
from t he capt i vi t y t o t he rul er of t he powe r of t he air, i n t he age of t hi s wor l d
7. The second half of the letter unfolds around the 'walk' metaphor: 4.1,17; 5.2, 8,15.
8. See the arguments against the view of descent into the 'underworld' and a similar conclu-
sion in M. Barth, Ephesians 4-6 (AB 34A; New York: Doubleday, 1974), pp. 433-4.
9. See Robert L. Foster, 'Exploring the Limits of Grace: The Theological and Rhetorical
Force of X<*PS in Ephesians', in R. L. Foster and C. J. Roetzel (eds), The Impartial God: Essays
in Honor ofJouette M. Bossier (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, forthcoming).
7. Ephesians through Philemon 111
( 2. 2) , enabl es t he communi t y t o freely r ecei ve and us e t he gifts i mpar t ed by
Chri st for t hei r mut ual upbui l di ng ( 4. 8, 11-12).
The fact t hat Go d cr eat ed t hi s uni ver s e i mpact s Pa ul ' s r het or i c. Wh e n Paul
pr ays for t he Ephes i an EKKArjoia, he offers t hi s pr ayer t o ' t he Fat her , from
wh o m al l f at her hood i n t he heavens and upon t he ear t h i s n a me d ' ( 3. 14- 15) .
1 0
Though it r emai ns difficult t o di s cer n wha t ' f at her hood i n t he h e a v e n s ' ref ers
t o exact l y, t he poi nt i s t hat al l par ent age i n t he cr eat ed uni ver s e der i ves from
i t s creat or. Thi s vi s i on of t he der i vat i ve nat ur e of al l l i vi ng bei ngs from t he
cr eat or of al l life r ei nf or ces Pa ul ' s a i m t o set t he Ephes i ans vi s i on' on what
exi st ed bef or e cr eat i on i n t he heavenl y pl aces , i n t hi s cas e on t he Fat her.
Lat er i n t he book, Paul be c ome s mor e expl i ci t about h o w t hi s vi s i on di r ect l y
i mpact s t he Ephes i an eKKArjoia. I n i nst r uct i ons t o Chr i s t i an mas t er s , Paul
wr i t es t hat t hey s houl d ' do t he s ame t o t he m [ t hei r s er vant s ] . St op t hr eat en-
i ng t he m becaus e you bot h have t he s ame Ma s t e r i n he a ve n [ t he heavens ;
oupccvoi c] , and wi t h hi m t her e i s no par t i al i t y' . The cont r ast , b y i mpl i cat i on,
i s be t we e n t he r el at i ons hi p of t he mas t er / s l ave on ear t h, and t he r el at i ons hi p
of bot h mas t er and sl ave t o t he one wh o , i n t he heavens , i s Mas t er of t he m
bot h. The shift i n l anguage from ' heavenl y pl a c e s ' t o ' h e a v e n s ' appar ent l y
der i ves from Paul ' s per cept i on t hat t he heavens a nd ear t h s er ve as a pai r of
r eal i t i es t hat t oget her ma ke u p t he uni ver s e. Yet , t he poi nt r emai ns t he s a me
as t hr oughout : t he me mb e r s of t he Ephes i an E K K A T I C J I C C mus t fix t hei r gaze
be yond t he ear t h t o f ocus on t he Lor d and t he de ma nds he ma ke s on al l t hos e
wh o exer ci s e l or ds hi p on t he ear t h.
Thus , Paul ' s cos mol ogy reflects t wo i mpor t ant real i t i es: t he heavenl y pl aces
and t he uni ver se, wi t h t he uni ver s e di vi ded furt her i nt o t he heavens and t he
eart h. The basi c di st i nct i on bet ween t he heavenl y pl aces and t he uni ver se is
t hat t he uni ver s e came i nt o exi st ence s ome t i me after t he heavenl y pl aces. The
key t er m associ at ed wi t h t he uni ver s e i s ' ever yt hi ng' (T C C TravTa, 1. 10, 23; 3. 9;
4. 10) , whi ch i ncl udes t he spi ri t ual power s t hat wor k i n t he wor l d, as wel l as al l
par ent age, and al l huma n bei ngs , whet her sl ave or free. I n t he heavenl y pl aces
r esi de God and Jesus Chri st , t hough a myr i ad of spi ri t ual forces al so popul at e
t hi s r eal m.
Theol ogi cal l y, God cr eat ed al l t he real i t i es of t he uni ver s e; ever yt hi ng
deri ves from hi m. Yet, God wor ked wi t hi n t he uni ver se i n Chri st , so t hat Chr i st ' s
descent i nt o t he eart h and ascent i nt o t he heavens effect i vel y t ook capt i vi t y
i t sel f capt i ve. At s ome poi nt i n t he fut ure, at t he ful l ness of t i me, ever yt hi ng wi l l
be br ought t oget her i n Chri st , wh o wi l l r ei gn over al l . Thi s fut ure r ei gn reflects
t he wor k of God al r eady effect ed i n t he heavenl y pl aces , wher e Chr i st r ul es
pr esent l y hi gh above al l r ul er s and aut hori t i es and power s and domi ni ons . The
Ephesi ans mus t r ecogni ze t hei r own pl ace wi t hi n t he heavenl y pl aces , seat ed
10. I retain the masculine 'Father/fatherhood' to show the play on words lost in the NRSV
translation, 'the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name'.
112 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
wi t h Chri st ( 2. 6) . In fact, t he life of t he Ephesi an EKKArjoicc demonst r at es t he
mani f ol d wi s dom of God t o t he rul ers and aut hori t i es i n t he heavenl y pl aces
( 3. 10) . Al l of t hi s cosmol ogi cal l anguage is used by Paul t o reori ent t he l i ves of
t he Ephes i an ExxArioia.
Philippians
Though t he cos mol ogi cal l anguage i s not f r equent l y as expl i ci t i n Phi l i ppi -
ans as i n Ephes i ans , Paul i nt r oduces al l usi ons t o cos mol ogy ear l y i n t he letter.
Sever al pl aces i n t he l et t er ' s proem envi si on t he t i me be yond t hi s pr es ent life
whe n t he peopl e of God j oi n Chr i s t i n t he heavens , t hough i n none of t he t hr ee
i nst ances does Paul us e t he t er m ' he a ve n' . I n 1.6 Paul as s ur es t he Phi l i ppi ans
t hat t he one wh o began a good wor k i n t hem wi l l br i ng it t o compl et i on ' i n
t he day of Chr i st J e s us ' . Thi s s t at ement i mpl i es at l east an end t o t he wor l d as
t hey kn ow it at t he r et ur n of Chr i st . Si mul t aneous l y t hi s l anguage r ei nf or ces
t he pl ace of t he Phi l i ppi ans wi t hi n t he uni ver s e as t hei r wor k finds i t s compl e-
t i on i n t hat day, i n n o smal l meas ur e becaus e God wor ks i n t hem and wor ks
i n t hem fai t hful l y t o t he end.
1 1
1.10 r ei nf or ces t hi s i dea as Paul pr ays for t he
Phi l i ppi ans t o have knowl edge and dept h of i nsi ght , l eadi ng t o t hei r pur i t y
and bl amel es s nes s unt i l t he day of Chr i st . Agai n, Paul envi s i ons an end t o t he
cur r ent exper i ence of t i me t hat set s a par t i cul ar t r aj ect or y for t he life of t he
Phi l i ppi an communi t y.
Paul ant i ci pat es hi s own ent r ance i nt o t he ot her wor l d, t hough he fears t hat
he mi ght ent er t hi s wor l d, shal l we say, premat urel y, by dyi ng for t he cause of
t he gospel . Paul ant i ci pat es t hat he wi l l cont i nue t o l i ve i n t he present , t hat i s, i n
t he body, but i f he di es he knows he wi l l be wi t h Chri st , pr es umabl y in heaven,
whi ch he prefers ( 1. 23) . Thi s life i n t he next wor l d ' wi t h Chr i s t ' , in Paul ' s mi nd,
is ' far bet t er ' ( 1. 23) .
1 2
Paul ent ers t he body of t he Let t er at 1.27 cal l i ng on t he Phi l i ppi ans t o ' l i ve
as wor t hy ci t i zens' of t he gospel . Wi t hi n t he body i t sel f Paul uses cosmol ogi cal
i mager y t o rei nforce what it means for t he Phi l i ppi ans t o l i ve as wor t hy ci t i zens
of t he gospel .
One of t he initial exhor t at i ons i nvol ves a cal l t o uni t y ( 2. 1- 4) wi t h Chri st as
t he first and great est exampl e of t he life t hey ought t o i mi t at e ( 2. 5- 11; f ol l owed
by Ti mot hy i n 2. 19- 24 and Epaphr odi t us i n 2. 25- 30) . In t he f amous ' Chr i st -
h y mn ' , Paul makes several ref erences t o hi s own cosmol ogi cal vi si on. We
not i ce i n t hi s hymn anot her di chot omy bet ween this wor l d and t hat of heaven,
11. P. T. O'Brien, The Epistle to the Philippians (NIGNTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991),
p. 65.
12. Gordon Fee notes, 'Thus, even though he throws himself with abandon into life in the
present, the entire orientation of his life is toward the (absolutely certain) future' (G. Fee, Paul's
Letter to the Philippians [NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995], p. 145).
7. Ephesians through Philemon 113
so t hat whe n Chri st dwel l ed wi t h God in heaven Chri st exper i enced ' equal i t y'
( i o a ; 2. 6) wi t h God, but comi ng i nt o eart h meant t aki ng on t he f orm of a sl ave
(SouAou; 2. 7). Thi s vi si on of t he di fference bet ween t he t wo wor l ds reflects
Paul ' s earl i er l anguage of t he life in heaven as ' far bet t er ' and ma y i nt i mat e
s omet hi ng of t he qual i t at i ve di fference t hose wh o depart t o be wi t h Chri st wi l l
exper i ence. For Chri st , hi s own r et ur n t o heaven pr oves even mor e t r i umphant
t han hi s ori gi nal equal i t y wi t h God so t hat ever y knee i n heaven and eart h and
under t he eart h bows t o Chri st ( 1. 10) . Paul gi ves expl i ci t l anguage t o a vi si on
of a t hree- st ori ed uni ver se popul at ed wi t h unspeci fi ed bei ngs in each r eal m t hat
may, at l east met aphori cal l y, bend t he knee.
As Paul br i ngs t he body of t he l et t er t o a cl ose he ret urns t o t he met aphor of
ci t i zenshi p, maki ng one l ast cont rast bet ween life on eart h and life i n heaven.
Peopl e i nvest ed i n t he eart h are dest i ned for dest ruct i on, have t hei r bel l y as
t hei r god, gl or y i n t hei r s hame, and set t hei r mi nds cont i nual l y on eart hl y t hi ngs
( 3. 19) . On t he ot her hand, t he Phi l i ppi ans bel ong wi t h t hose wh o know t hei r
ci t i zenshi p lies i n heaven, from whi ch t hey expect t hei r savi our, t he Lor d Jesus
Chri st ( 3. 20) . Though 3. 20 mi ght i mpl y current ci t i zenshi p, it s eems t hat agai n
we find a vi si on of t he fut ure as Paul ant i ci pat es t hat he and t he Phi l i ppi ans wi l l
have t hei r ' body of humi l i at i on' (TCCTTE'IVCOOIC) t r ansf or med i nt o one l i ke t he
gl or i ous body of Chri st . Thi s ' body of humi l i at i on' and ' body of gl or y' l i nks
3. 21 t o t he earl i er Chri st hymn, so t hat t he bodi es t he Phi l i ppi ans i nhabi t are
bodi es of sl avery, l i ke Chr i st ' s on eart h, so t hat t hey hope t o r ecei ve sal vat i on
from t hi s body and so find t hei r bodi es glorified as Chri st di d at hi s exal t at i on.
The vi si on of t he cos mos i n t he l et t er t o t he Phi l i ppi ans ent ai l s t he vi si on
of a t hree- st ori ed uni ver se t hat all wi l l one day submi t t o Chri st . Yet, for t he
pr esent i nst ruct i on t o t he Phi l i ppi an EKKAnoia Paul cont rast s life on eart h and
life i n heaven, t hi s life on eart h as one of sl avery and t he one in heaven as a life
of glory. The di vi si on bet ween t hese wor l ds i s l ess spat i al and mor e t empor al
in Phi l i ppi ans, so t hat t he t r ansf or mat i on awai t s a future t i me of ei t her deat h or
t he day of Chri st , pr es umabl y t he day of Chr i st ' s ret urn.
The r eor i ent at i on of t he Phi l i ppi an 'EKKAnoia i nvol ves t hei r l ear ni ng t hat
t hei r ci t i zenshi p does not bel ong on ear t h, i n t he flesh. Rat her , t hei r ci t i zen-
shi p l i es i n heaven whe r e Chr i st dwel l s i n exal t at i on and from whi c h he wi l l
r et ur n t o gl ori fy t hei r bodi es l i ke hi s own. The Phi l i ppi ans mus t not l ose si ght
of t hei r final ai m and t he final pr i ze but mus t per s ever e i n t hei r good wor ks t o
be freed from sl aver y i n t he body. Not onl y does t hei r fut ure depend on t hei r
or i ent at i on t owar d heaven, Paul ' s fut ure depends on t hei r or i ent at i on t owar d
heaven as wel l .
Colossians
Paul al so i nt r oduces key cosmol ogi cal concept s earl y on i n t he Let t er t o t he
Col ossi ans, in t he openi ng t hanksgi vi ng:
114 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
... for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all
the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope
before in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit
and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from
the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God (1.4-6).
I n t hese openi ng l i nes we obs er ve t wo basi c cos mol ogi cal real i t i es: (1) t he
heavens (pi . T O T C oupavoTc) , i n whi ch t he Col os s i ans ' hope is l ai d up; and
(2) ' t he whol e wor l d' ( T T C C V T I T G J K O O M C O ) , whi ch i s t he r eal m i n whi ch t he
gospel i s pr ocl ai med, announci ng t hi s hope. Though Paul connect s t he t wo
real i t i es ar ound t he i dea of hope, t her e r emai ns s ome di st i nct i on bet ween t hem
i n t hat t he gospel onl y pr ocl ai ms t he hope in t he wor l d, whi l e t hi s hope resi des
in real i t y i n t he heavens . As Paul begi ns t o reori ent t he Col ossi ans wi t h t he
demands of t hi s par t i cul ar Let t er, he r emi nds t hem t hat t he hope i n heaven gave
bi rt h t o t hei r faith i n Chri st Jesus and t hei r l ove for all t he sai nt s, as t he gospel
bear s fruit a mong t hem and i n t he whol e wor l d.
The maj or cont rast bet ween t hese t wo real i t i es s eems t o be t hat t hi ngs i n t he
heavens r emai n i nvi si bl e whi l e t hi ngs i n t he wor l d ( cos mos ) ar e vi si bl e. I n Chri st ,
wh o is t he i mage of t he i nvi si bl e God ( 1. 15) , al l t hi ngs wer e creat ed, t hi ngs in
t he heavens and on eart h, vi si bl e or i nvi si bl e ( 1. 16) . I n t he heavens r esi des t he
i nvi si bl e God, al ong wi t h ot her cr eat ed heavenl y t hi ngs, t he t hr ones, domi n-
i ons, rul ers and power s ment i oned i n 1.16. Thi s cont rast bet ween t he vi si bl e
and i nvi si bl e i s pr i mar y as Paul r eor i ent s t he Col ossi an EKKArjaicc, encour agi ng
t hem t o cont i nue st eadfast i n t hei r faith, ' wi t hout shi ft i ng from t he hope pr om-
i sed by t he gospel t hat you hear d, whi ch has been pr ocl ai med t o ever y creat ure
under heaven' ( 1. 23) . The Col ossi an E K K A T I O I C C mus t focus t hei r mi nds on t he
i nvi si bl e t hi ngs i n t he heavens r at her t han on t he vi si bl e, whi ch wi l l hi nder t hei r
faith and di vert t hem from t hei r hope.
What are t he vi si bl e t hi ngs t hat mi ght l ead t he Col ossi ans ast r ay from t hei r
faith and hope? Thes e vi si bl e t hi ngs ar e evi dent in t he pot ent i al l y decei vi ng
' pl ausi bl e s oundi ng ar gument s ' ( 2. 4) . Such ar gument s are r el at ed t o ' phi l os o-
phy and empt y decei t , accor di ng t o huma n t radi t i on, accor di ng t o el ement al
spi ri t s of t he uni ver s e' ( K O O U O U ; 2. 8) . So, t he vi si bl e t hi ngs of t he wor l d are
rel at ed t o t hi ngs spoken: pl ausi bl e s oundi ng ar gument s , phi l os ophy and empt y
decei t . Mor e t o t he poi nt , t hey s peak of human t radi t i ons, ' accor di ng t o t he
el ement al spi ri t s of t he uni ver s e' . 2. 16- 18 unpacks t hi s furt her as Paul i nst ruct s
t he Col ossi ans not t o al l ow anyone t o
condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing of festivals, new moons, or
Sabbaths. These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to
Christ. Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of
angels, dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking.
Concer n for s uch t hi ngs i ndi cat es t hat t he Col ossi ans act l i ke t hey still bel ong t o
t he wor l d ( K O O U C O ) , obeyi ng r egul at i ons t hat in t he end cannot keep t hem from
7. Ephesians through Philemon 115
sel f - i ndul gence ( 2. 20, 23) . I n fact, such ' r egul at i ons refer t o t hi ngs t hat per i sh
wi t h us e ' ( 2. 22) .
Thus t he vi si bl e t hi ngs of t he wor l d are t hi ngs t hat wi l l per i sh, anyt hi ng t hat
one ma y handl e, t ast e, or t ouch ( 2. 21) . Becaus e such t hi ngs per i sh wi t h us e, it
s eems best t o t ake OTOixeioc i n 2. 8 and 20 not as ' el ement al spi r i t s' ( NRSV) ,
s ome sort of super nat ur al forces, but r at her as ' t he mat er i al s of whi ch t he wor l d
and t he uni ver se are c ompos e d' ,
1 3
si mi l ar t o 2 Pet . 3. 10, whi ch st at es t hat ' t he
el ement s wi l l be di ssol ved wi t h fire'.
14
The wor l d t hen i s t hat whi ch i s vi si bl e,
t hi ngs peopl e t ouch, t he el ement s dest i ned t o per i sh wi t h us e. The i r ony i s t hat
r egul at i ons about such t hi ngs are ' pl ausi bl e s oundi ng ar gument s ' , but focus
on t he mat er i al , whi ch i s onl y a s hadow of t he t hi ngs t o come, whos e s ub-
st ance bel ongs t o Chri st ( 2. 17) . Thus , a second i mpor t ant di st i nct i on bet ween
t he t wo real i t i es: one wi l l per i sh (t he wor l d) whi l e t he ot her wi l l endur e (t he
heavens ) .
1 5
A t hi rd di st i nct i on bet ween t hese t wo basi c real i t i es of t he cos mos emer ges
i n t he i mmedi at el y f ol l owi ng sect i on whi ch i mages t he heavens i n t er ms of
' t hi ngs t hat ar e a bove ' ( 3. 1) . Pr eemi nent a mong t hese i s Chri st , seat ed at t he
ri ght hand of God. But , r el at ed t o Chr i st ' s si t t i ng i n t he heavens i s t he Col os -
s i ans ' own life hi dden wi t h Chri st i n Go d ( 3. 3) . Thus , t hey shoul d focus on t he
t hi ngs above becaus e, ' Wh e n Chri st wh o i s your life i s r eveal ed, t hen you al so
wi l l be r eveal ed wi t h hi m i n gl or y' ( 3. 4) .
Though Paul i nst ruct s t he Col ossi ans not t o focus t hei r mi nds on t he t hi ngs
of t he eart h ( y f | C; 3. 3), t he Col ossi ans mus t still put t o deat h ' what ever i n you
is ear t hl y' (TCC \ii\r\ TCC BTTI T? | C yf | c ; 3. 5). I nst ead of f ol l owi ng t hei r f ormer
wa y of life, t he Col ossi ans have been cl ot hed wi t h a ne w sel f ' bei ng r enewed
in knowl edge accor di ng t o t he i mage of its cr eat or ' ( 3. 10) . Thi s us e of ' i ma ge '
(e'iKcov) al l udes back t o t he openi ng h y mn of Chri st , whi ch refers t o hi m as
t he ' i ma ge ' (EIKCOV) of t he i nvi si bl e God ( 1. 16) . Thus , i n t he ne w sel f t hat t hey
cl ot hed t hems el ves wi t h, t he Col ossi ans embody t he t hi ngs of heaven, as Chri st
13. J. P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida (eds), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based
on Semantic Domains (2 vols.; Atlanta: Scholars, 1992) Vol. 1 2.1; p. 19, not as they list it, among
the supernatural forces in 12.43; p. 147.
14. Though, as Lohse notes, the context includes discussion of Christ's triumph over rulers
and authorities (E. Lohse, Colossians and Philemon (A Commentary on the Epistles to the Colos-
sians and to Philemon) [trans. W. R. Poehlman and R. J. Harris; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1971],
p. 98), this does not necessarily mean that the elements are elemental spirits, authorities contest-
ing Christ's authority. Notice the whole discussion in 2.8-15 regards circumcision of the flesh and
spiritual circumcision, i.e. baptism (2.11-14). Demands for circumcision, which seem of the sort
of fading elements of this world, are those that Christ 'set aside, nailing it to the cross' (2.14).
15. O'Brien writes with regard to the statement that these are only a shadow of things to come,
that the Colossians should not allow themselves 'to be judged in these matters because they all
belonged to the transitory order' (P. T. O'Brien, Colossians and Philemon [Waco: Word, 1982],
p. 139).
116 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
d i d The i nvi si bl e becomes vi si bl e not in t he vi si bl e t hi ngs of t he wor l d, t he
eart h, t he el ement s, whi ch wi l l all peri sh. Rat her t he i nvi si bl e became vi si bl e in
t he Chr i st wh o l i ves as t he firstborn from t he dead ( 1. 18) and i n t he l i ves of t he
Col ossi ans, who have been r ai sed wi t h Chri st (3. 1).
The cos mol ogy of Col ossi ans, mu c h l i ke t hat of Ephesi ans, i ncl udes t wo
maj or r eal ms , t he heavens and t he wor l d, t hough t he cos mos i n Col ossi ans does
not di vi de any further. The heavens ar e wher e God and Chr i st resi de, i nvi si bl e,
et ernal , and ' a bove ' . I n t hi s r eal m are rul ers, aut hori t i es, t hr ones and power s .
However , Paul does not i nst ruct t he Col ossi ans about st ruggl i ng agai nst such
power s , but si mpl y not es t hat Chri st t r i umphed over t he rul ers and aut hori t i es
i n t he cr oss ( 2. 15) . The wor l d ( cos mos ) consi st s of t he vi si bl e, t hi ngs one can
t ouch, t ast e, or handl e, mat er i al t hi ngs. Thes e t hi ngs ar e bel ow and of t he eart h,
t hi ngs t hat wi l l per i sh i n t i me.
Theol ogi cal l y, t he i mpor t ant di st i nct i on bet ween t hese t wo r eal ms is t he fact
t hat one is of Chr i st and t he ot her i s not . Thus t he t eachi ng t hat mi ght t ake t he
Col ossi ans capt i ve concer ns t he el ement s of t he wor l d and not Chri st ( 2. 8) . The
concer n for food and dri nk, fest i val s, ne w moons , and Sabbat hs ar e s hadows ,
whi l e t he subst ance bel ongs t o Chri st ( 2. 17) . The Col ossi ans di ed wi t h Chri st
and no l onger need r egul at i ons about not handl i ng, t ast i ng, or t ouchi ng t hi ngs,
as i f t hey still bel onged t o t he wor l d and its el ement s ( 2. 20) . Inst ead, t hey have
been r ai sed up wi t h Chri st and seat ed wi t h hi m in t he heavens , wi t h t hei r hope
i n t he heavens and t hei r life hi dden wi t h God. Wh e n Chri st , wh o is t hei r life,
appear s, t hey wi l l appear wi t h hi m i n gl ory. They know what t he i nvi si bl e God
is l i ke becaus e t hey have hear d t he gospel about Chri st , wh o i s t he i mage of t he
i nvi si bl e God in wh om t he ful l ness of God dwel l ed.
1 6
Thus , Paul reori ent s t he Col ossi ans t owar d a bet t er wa y of cont i nui ng st ead-
fast i n t hei r faith, not shi ft i ng from t he hope pr omi s ed t o t hem in t he gospel .
They shoul d not gi ve i n t o pl ausi bl e soundi ng ar gument s concer ni ng h ow t o
check sel f - i ndul gence but i nst ead r ecogni ze t hey have di ed and been r ai sed
wi t h Chri st . They shoul d di rect t hei r mi nds t owar d t hi ngs t hat are above ( 3. 2) ,
becaus e ' [i ]t i s pr eci sel y in consi der i ng ' t hat whi ch is a bove ' t hat t hey mol d
ever yday life accordi ngl y, i n obedi ence t o t he Lor d' .
1 7
They have t he new,
whi ch, l i ke Chri st , is t he i mage of t hei r creat or, and s o cl ot he t hemsel ves wi t h
t hose vi rt ues t hat reflect t he life of Chr i st ( 3. 12- 15) , si gns of t hei r r enewed life
in Chr i st ( 3. 10) .
1 Thessalonians
The cosmol ogi cal l anguage i n 1 Thessal oni ans is rat her sparse, but not i nsi g-
nificant. At t he end of hi s commendat i on of t he Thessal oni ans, Paul wr i t es t hat
16. Thus, Christ is 'absolutely superior to the cosmos* as the image of God, in contrast to the
Hellenistic view of the cosmos as the image of God (Lohse, Colossians and Philemon, pp. 47-8).
17. Ibid.,p. 133.
7. Ephesians through Philemon 117
t hey t ur ned from i dol s t o t he l i vi ng God and n ow ' wai t for hi s Son from heaven,
wh o m he r ai sed from t he dead - Jesus, wh o r escues us from t he wr at h t hat is
c omi ng' ( 1. 10) . In t hese few wor ds Paul gi ves us several i ndi cat i ons of hi s cos -
mol ogy. Fi rst , Jesus abi des i n t he heavens unt i l he r et ur ns. Second, appar ent l y
at t he t i me of hi s resurrect i on Jesus wa s t aken up i nt o heaven. Fi nal l y, Paul
i mpl i es t hat t hi s age wi l l come t o an end whe n Jesus r et ur ns wi t h j udgement .
Thi s basi c t hought concer ni ng J es us ' comi ng from heaven t o r escue bel i ev-
ers from wr at h r ecei ves a mor e devel oped di scussi on in 4. 13- 5. 11, wher e Paul
t ri es t o r eassur e t he Thessal oni ans about t hose al r eady dead ( 4. 13) . Paul agai n
assert s t hat t he Lor d wi l l des cend from heaven at t hat t i me, wi t h t hose al r eady
dead ri si ng first and t hen t hose wh o r emai n al i ve caught up i n t he cl ouds t o
meet t he Lor d i n t he ai r i n or der t o l i ve wi t h hi m forever ( 4. 16- 17) . Appar ent
in t hi s l anguage is t he bel i ef t hat heaven i s t he abode of God and Chri st and of
t he ar changel , but not of humans , i ncl udi ng t he dead. Rat her, t he dead and t he
l i vi ng bot h r esi de s omewher e on/ i n t he eart h and awai t Chr i st ' s comi ng. The
di st i nct i on bet ween t he dead and t he l i vi ng t hen is not spat i al , si nce bot h abi de
in t he eart h, but t empor al , wi t h t he dead pr ecedi ng t he l i vi ng t o meet Chr i st i n
t he air, t hough bot h wi l l finally resi de wi t h t he Lor d forever ( 4. 17) .
1 8
I n t hese passages Paul di scusses t he wa ys of God i n Chri st i n t he cos mos t o
encour age t hi s young congr egat i on, whi ch he s eems t o t hi nk needs speci al car e.
Paul reori ent s t hei r t hi nki ng concer ni ng t he dead, so t hat t hey wi l l not gr i eve
l i ke t he wor l d does ( 4. 13) , but i nst ead encour age and bui l d each ot her u p (5. 11).
Becaus e of t hei r assur ance t hat Chri st wi l l ret urn, t hat t he dead wi l l r i se first,
and t hat t he l i vi ng and t he dead in Chri st wi l l be wi t h t he Lor d forever, t hey can
t ake heart . In fact, Chr i st ' s resurrect i on from t he dead and subsequent exal t at i on
t o heaven wi t h God, ser ves as t he basi s for t hei r fut ure hope of Chr i st ' s r et ur n.
1 9
Not i ce t hat t hese bot h ar e connect ed at t he cl ose of Paul ' s pr ayer for t he Thes -
sal oni ans i n t he mi ddl e sect i on, wher e he hopes t hey wi l l ' be bl amel ess bef or e
our God and Fat her at t he comi ng of our Lor d Jesus wi t h all t he sai nt s' ( 3. 13) .
2 Thessalonians
2 Thessal oni ans cont ai ns a great er densi t y of cosmol ogi cal l anguage compar ed
t o t he earl i er letter. At t he begi nni ng we find one of t he f ew i nst ances of t he
us e of ki ngdom l anguage i n t he Paul i ne cor pus. Her e Paul consi der s t he afflic-
t i ons and per secut i ons t hat t he Thessal oni ans endur e as pr epar i ng t hem for
t he ki ngdom of God ( 1. 4- 5) . Temporal l y, t hi s Ki ngdom is a fut ure Ki ngdom,
18. Malherbe argues that there is also a qualitative difference inherent in the term <J>6avco, so
that he translates this phrase more generically, 'we. . . shall by no means have precedence over
those who have fallen asleep' (A. J. Malherbe, The Letters to the Thessalonians: A New Transla-
tion with Introduction and Commentary [AB 32B; New York: Doubleday, 2000], pp. 272-3).
19. I. H. Marshall, The New Century Bible Commentary: I and 2 Thessalonians (Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983), p. 59.
118 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
s omet hi ng t hat t he Thes s al oni ans wi l l at t ai n. Spat i al l y, t hi s Ki ngdom i s al so a
heavenl y ki ngdom, i f we cons i der t he r evel at i on of Jesus ' f r om heaven wi t h
hi s mi ght y angel s i n f l ami ng fire' as a descr i pt i on of t he t i me whe n t hose wh o
bel i eve wi l l ent er t he Ki ngdom. The Let t er rei nforces t hi s connect i on bet ween
ent er i ng t he Ki ngdom and t he r evel at i on of Jesus i n heaven wi t h Paul ' s descr i p-
t i on t hat ' on t hat da y' t hos e wh o bel i eved wi l l mar vel at J es us ' appear ance
( 1. 10) . The c omi ng of J es us t hen ends t hi s par t i cul ar exper i ence of t i me and
space so t hat t he bel i ever s wi l l ent er i nt o t he Ki ngdom and Jesus Chri st wi l l
br each t he di vi de bet ween t hi s wor l d and t he other.
The act i vi t i es i n bot h pl aces r emai n consonant , however . Thus , at t he pr esent
moment , t he Thessal oni ans endur e affliction and per secut i on, cont i nui ng st ead-
fast and faithful, whi ch Paul consi der s a si gn of t he j us t j udgement of God
( 1. 4- 5) . The t heol ogi cal cl ai m i s t hat at t he end of t hi s par t i cul ar exper i ence of
t i me and space God wi l l inflict puni s hment on t hose wh o deser ve j udgement .
Impl i ci t l y, t hi s pas s age assert s t hat God r emai ns compl et el y awar e of t he t hi ngs
happeni ng on eart h and so wi l l be abl e t o ri ght t he wr ongs happeni ng on eart h.
Paul us es t hi s di scour se of t he fut ure r ei gn and concomi t ant j udgement of
God i n par t becaus e he fears t hat t he Thessal oni ans have fal l en pr ey t o a di s-
cour se, pur por t i ng t o c ome from Paul and hi s compani ons , t hat t he day of t he
Lor d is al r eady her e ( 2. 1- 2) . Per haps t he i mager y of God afflicting t hose wh o
fall under j udge me nt at t he end of t i me causes t he Thessal oni ans t o wonder
whet her t hey are pr esent l y under God' s eschat ol ogi cal j udgement . Paul assur es
t hem t hat t he comi ng j udge me nt of Go d i n fact f ol l ows a di scer ni bl e sequence
of event s. Several t hi ngs caus e t he del ay of ' t hat day' , i ncl udi ng t he fact t hat t he
l awl ess one appar ent l y has not appear ed yet and has not appear ed becaus e t he
one wh o n ow r est r ai ns t he appear i ng of t he l awl ess one has not been r emoved
( 2. 3, 6-8). The exact i dent i t y of t he ' l awl es s on e ' and ' t he one wh o r est r ai ns'
need not del ay us her e. Wha t is si gni fi cant t o our pur pos es i s t hreefol d. Fi rst ,
Paul envi si ons t he comi ng day of Jesus Chri st as happeni ng on a part i cul ar
t i met abl e, wi t h cer t ai n event s t hat mus t occur bef or e Jesus r et ur ns. Second,
t he appear ance of t he ' l awl es s on e ' cannot t hwar t t he pur pos es of God and i n
fact, Chri st wi l l dest r oy/ anni hi l at e t hi s bei ng whe n he comes (2. 8). Thi rd, t he
wor ki ng of t he l awl ess one represent s t he wor ki ng of Sat an, a bei ng who appar-
ent l y wor ks wi t hi n t he cos mos pr esent l y t hr ough ' power , si gns, l yi ng, wonder s
and ever y ki nd of wi cked decept i on' ( 2. 10) . The r eas on t hat ma ny refuse t o
l ove t he t rut h and r ecei ve sal vat i on ( 2. 10) i n no smal l meas ur e rel at es t o t he
wor ki ng of Sat an, whi ch God rei nf orces by sendi ng a power f ul del usi on upon
unbel i ever s ( 2. 11) .
The cos mos i n 2 Thes s al oni ans concer ns mos t l y t he t empor al wor l d, whi ch
for t he Thes s al oni ans is pr esent l y exper i enced as a t i me of affliction. Yet, t he
good ne ws for t hem i n t he mi ds t of t hei r affliction i s t hat t hei r sufferi ng is not
a si gn of havi ng fal l en under t he j udge me nt of God. Rat her, God wi l l faith-
fully st r engt hen t hem and guar d t hem i n t he mi dst of t he wor ki ng of var i ous
7. Ephesians through Philemon 119
evi l forces wh o are appar ent l y physi cal ( ' t he l awl ess one ' and ' t he one wh o
r es t r ai ns ' ) and t hos e wh o ar e appar ent l y spi ri t s ( Sat an, t he evi l one) . Wh e n
t hi s cur r ent t i me of t he cos mos comes t o an end, at t he pr oper t i me, Chr i st wi l l
appear i n a wa y evi dent t o all and God wi l l execut e j udgement agai nst t hose
wh o pr esent l y afflict t he Thessal oni ans, al ong wi t h ot her unbel i ever s.
Accor di ng t o Paul ' s expl i ci t di scour se, God i n fact r ei gns i n t he wor l d and
wi l l mani f est t hat r ei gn mor e cl earl y i n t he t i me of fut ure j udgement . Furt her-
mor e, t he Thessal oni ans wi l l find t hemsel ves abl e t o endur e i n t hei r pr esent
st ruggl es i n t he wor l d becaus e of God' s faithful prot ect i on. Li kewi se, t hough
God r ei gns from heaven t he t ext i mpl i es t hat God sees all t hat happens on t he
eart h and wi l l exer ci se j us t j udgement bas ed on t hi s obser vat i on. The pr i mar y
agent of God, t he Lor d Jesus, wi l l hi ms el f execut e j us t i ce agai nst t he l awl ess
one by anni hi l at i ng hi m, dest r oyi ng hi m rat her easi l y, si mpl y wi t h t he br eat h of
hi s mout h.
Rhet ori cal l y, t hen, t he vi si on of t he cos mos i nt ends t o affect t he Thes s al o-
ni ans i n t wo ways dur i ng t hei r t i me of affliction. Fi rst , Paul want s t o al l ay t hei r
fears t hat t hei r affliction s hows t hat t he day of t he Lor d has al r eady c ome and
t hey st and under t he Lor d' s j udgement . Second, he want s t o encour age t hem t o
endur e dur i ng t hi s hour as a si gn of t hei r faith i n t he j us t j udgement of God, wh o
wi l l assert hi s r ei gn mor e cl earl y at t he appr opr i at e hour.
/ Timothy
The i nt r oduct i on of t he first cosmol ogi cal l anguage i n 1 Ti mot hy occur s i n t he
' t r us t wor t hy' st at ement : ' Chr i st Jesus came i nt o t he wor l d t o save si nners - of
wh o m I a m t he f or emost ' ( 1. 15) . Thi s one l i ne pr ovi des several key nuances of
cosmol ogi cal t hought . Per haps pr i mar y a mong t hem is t he vi si on of t he wor l d
as t he spher e i n whi ch sal vat i on is wr ought .
2 0
We do not have a sense of Paul ' s
emphas i s on God r econci l i ng all t hi ngs i n heaven and on eart h i n Chr i st as i n
Col ossi ans, but r at her a specific emphas i s on sal vat i on i n t he wor l d. Second,
t hough Paul does not i ndi cat e t he t ot al cor r upt i on of t he wor l d, Paul i magi nes
a wor l d i nhabi t ed by s i nner s .
2 1
Thi rd, t hi s t r ust wor t hy sayi ng i mpl i es t hat Jesus
exi st ed out si de of t he r eal m of t hi s wor l d but wa s abl e t o ent er it on behal f of
humani t y.
As Paul offers t hanks for God' s mer cy, he refers t o God i n t er ms of one wh o
i s i mmor t al and i nvi si bl e ( 1. 17) . Thi s l anguage of t he i nvi si bl e Go d s ounds
muc h l i ke t he l anguage of vi si bl e/ i nvi si bl e i n Col ossi ans. Her e it i s si mpl y
enough t o not e t hat Paul appar ent l y consi der s God t o abi de i n a wor l d i nvi si bl e
t o humani t y, i. e. heaven or t he heavens .
20. I. H. Marshall, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles (ICC;
Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1999), p. 398.
21. The term is again K O O U O C , but seems restricted to the earth given the focus on sinners.
120 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
3. 16 i nt r oduces a si mpl e st at ement of t he mys t er y of faith, t hough t he exact
meani ng of s ome l i nes r emai ns uncl ear :
He was revealed in the flesh,
vindicated in the spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the Gentiles,
believed in throughout the world,
taken up in glory.
The openi ng l i ne affirms what we obs er ved i n 1.15: Chr i s t c a me i nt o t he
wor l d, t hough i n 3. 16 Paul affi rms t hat he c a me i n flesh. Wi l l i am Mou n c e
poi nt s out t hat flesh is not cons i der ed ' si nf ul f l esh' , but s i mpl y ref ers t o
Chr i s t ' s humani t y.
2 2
Chr i s t ' s vi ndi cat i on by t he Spi ri t i s a bi t obs cur e but
s eems t o fall i nt o l i ne wi t h t he cl ai m i n Rom. 1.5 t hat Jesus wa s decl ar ed t o be
t he son of God by t he spi ri t of hol i nes s whe n he wa s r ai sed from t he dead. Yet ,
as obvi ous l y as he c a me i nt o t he wor l d, t aki ng on t he flesh, he al so appar ent l y
left t he wor l d, ' s een by t he angel s ' i n hi s as cens i on i nt o gl or y.
2 3
And, t hough
t he wor l d i s full of si nner s, it i s appar ent l y not evi l i n itself, as peopl e i n t he
wor l d bel i eve t he pr ocl amat i on of t he gos pe l .
2 4
Fi nal l y, we s ee an al l usi on t o
heaven as a pl ace of ' gl or y' , l i kel y as a r ef er ence t o heaven as a pl ace whe r e
t he God of gl or y dwel l s. Thi s pr ovi des a st ark cont r ast bet ween heaven and
eart h, wher e ear t h i s full of si nner s in need of sal vat i on and heaven is a pl ace
of gl or y as Go d ' s abode.
The next i nvocat i on of cosmol ogi cal l anguage empl oys i mager y of a cosmi c
t ri bunal as Paul pr esent s a char ge bef or e t he j udge and cour t r oom wi t nesses,
i ncl udi ng t he el ect angel s ( 5. 21) , whi ch adds t o t he sol emni t y of t he char ge,
gi ven t hat ment i oni ng t he el ect angel s i s unus ual in t he NT.
2 5
Two i mpor t ant
emphas es emer ge in r egar d t o cosmol ogy. One is t hat God, Chr i st and t he el ect
angel s abi de in t he heavens , but t hey never t hel ess obser ve t he affairs of human-
ity, in t hi s par t i cul ar i nst ance, t he affairs of t he chur ch in Ephes us . Two, t her e
wi l l be a t i me whe n t hey wi l l cal l a per son, i n t hi s case Ti mot hy, t o account for
t he deeds t hey obser ve on eart h.
I n a second char ge t o Ti mot hy, Paul agai n i nvokes t he pr es ence of God
and of Chr i st Jesus, t hough n ow l eavi ng out t he el ect angel s ( 6. 13- 14) . Paul
makes expl i ci t t he eschat ol ogi cal over t ones by demandi ng t hat Ti mot hy keep
' t he c omma ndme nt wi t hout spot or bl ame unt i l t he mani f est at i on of our Lor d'
( 6. 14) . Agai n, t he r eader get s a sense of heaven as a pl ace wher e t he i nvi si bl e
r esi des, t hough t he i nvi si bl e never t hel ess sees what occur s i n t he vi si bl e wor l d,
whet her Ti mot hy keeps t he commandment .
22. W. D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles (WBC 46; Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2000), p. 227.
23. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, p. 229; Marshal, Pastoral Epistles, p. 527.
24. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, p. 230.
25. G. D. Fee, land 2 Timothy, Titus (NIBCNT; Peabody: Hendrickson, 1988), p. 131.
7. Ephesians through Philemon 121
As Paul dr aws t he book t o a cl ose, he t wi ce addr esses i ssues of weal t h and
possessi ons. I n ur gi ng cont ent ment , Paul appar ent l y quot es a pr over bi al sayi ng,
' we br ought not hi ng i nt o t he wor l d and we cannot t ake anyt hi ng out of t he
wor l d' ( 6. 7) . It is cl ear t hat , cosmol ogi cal l y speaki ng, onl y i n t hi s wor l d are
possessi ons any good and t hat one wi l l not carry possessi ons i nt o t he next
wor l d.
2 6
Still, i n a furt her st at ement on possessi ons, Paul does not condemn t hem but
st at es t hat God pr ovi des ri chl y for us ' ever yt hi ng for our enj oyment ' ( 6. 17) ,
rei nforci ng a vi si on of God' s pr ovi dent i al car e for humani t y.
2 7
As God r eaches
i nt o t he wor l d t o pr ovi de for humani t y, so t oo t he r i ch of t hi s wor l d may, shal l
we say, r each i nt o heaven. By t hei r gener osi t y t owar d ot her s t hey st ore up ' f or
t hems el ves t he t reasure of a good f oundat i on for t he fut ure, s o t hat t hey ma y
t ake hol d of t he life t hat real l y is l i fe' ( 6. 19) . Weal t h, whe n put t o pr oper us e,
still cannot be t aken i nt o heaven, but does ma ke pr ovi si on for life i n heaven.
The cos mol ogy of 1 Ti mot hy ent ai l s t wo r eal ms , t he r eal m of t hi s wor l d and
anot her r eal m, pr es umabl y heaven. The r eal m of t he eart h i ncl udes peopl e of
flesh and weal t h, t hough t hese ar e not necessar i l y ' cor r upt , sinful flesh'. The
r eal m of heaven is a pl ace of t he i nvi si bl e, wher e God, Jesus and t he angel s
abi de. Ther e i s s ome per meabi l i t y bet ween t he t wo r eal ms as t he i nvi si bl e
obs er ve t he act i vi t i es of t he wor l d and as t he deeds of t hose i n t he wor l d ma y
pr oduce s ome effect i n t he i nvi si bl e wor l d.
Theol ogi cal l y speaki ng, t he wor l d i s a pl ace of bot h si n and sal vat i on, a
pl ace Jesus ent er ed i n or der t o br i ng sal vat i on. The wor l d i s al so t he r eal m
wher e peopl e bel i eve t hat Jesus came t o pr ovi de sal vat i on. God, t hough unseen,
makes cont i nued pr ovi si on for t he whol e wor l d, sust ai ni ng hi s creat i on, but
al so obs er ves t he act i vi t i es of humani t y i n t he wor l d and wi l l hol d t he wor l d
account abl e.
In t he wor l d of t he Ephesi an SKKXriaia Ti mot hy has t he difficult t ask of servi ng
as an emi ssary, hol di ng t he l eadi ng ci t i zens of t hi s communi t y account abl e on a
number of fronts, whet her t o sound t eachi ng ( 1. 3; 4. 11; 6. 3), t o correct behavi our
( 3. 15) , t o gi ve pr oper or der t o t he car e of wi dows (5. 7), or t o serve as a j udge
i n cases t hat ari se i n t he EKKXTJOICC ( 5. 21) . Consequent l y, Paul reori ent s Ti mot hy
t owar d t he real i t i es of t he cos mos in order t o st rengt hen hi m for hi s t asks. As one
whos e t eachi ng wi l l save bot h hi msel f and hi s hear er s ( 4. 16) , Ti mot hy needs t he
r emi nder t hat t he wor l d is t he pl ace of sal vat i on, wher e peopl e bel i eve t he good
news t hat Jesus came i nt o t he wor l d for t he expr ess pur pose of sal vat i on. As
Ti mot hy hol ds ot hers account abl e for t hei r t eachi ng and t hei r act i ons, he mus t
r emember t hat t here is a heavenl y t ri bunal obser vi ng hi s deeds and t hat wi l l hol d
hi m account abl e at t he end of t he pr esent age. I n exhor t i ng ot hers t owar d correct
26. Marshall, Pastoral Epistles, p. 646.
27. L. T. Johnson, The First and Second Letters to Timothy (AB 35 A; New York: Doubleday,
2001), p. 310.
122 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
behavi our, Ti mot hy mus t r emember t hat t he deeds done on eart h have an effect
on t he future of peopl e i n t he next life, real life.
2 Timothy
Earl y on i n 2 Ti mot hy we r ead cos mol ogi cal l anguage t hat di vi des t he ages of
t he wor l d i nt o t he past , pr esent and fut ure. In t he past , ' bef or e t he ages began' ,
God gave gr ace t o Paul and Ti mot hy bot h for sal vat i on and for t he specific wor k
of mi ni st r y t hat each per f or ms ( 1. 8- 9) . Yet, t he gift di d not c ome t o l i ght unt i l
t he pr esent moment , wi t h t he appear i ng of Chri st Jesus ( 1. 10) . As a resul t Paul
became a her al d of t he gospel , whi ch l ed t o hi s own sufferi ng, but he does not
back away i n s hame becaus e he knows t hat Chri st wi l l guar d what he ent r ust ed
t o Paul unt i l ' t hat da y' ( 1. 12) . I n t he past , pr esent and fut ure of t he cos mos , we
find Chri st wor ki ng and wor ki ng on behal f of Paul and Ti mot hy. Thi s wor k of
Chri st unbound by t i me l ends si gni fi cance t o t he t ask ent r ust ed t o Ti mot hy and
Paul and encour ages t hem t o cont i nue wi t h it i n t he mi ds t of var i ous st ruggl es.
The conf i dence of Ti mot hy and Paul is t hat , t hough t hi s pr esent age wi l l appar-
ent l y pas s , Chr i st br ought life and immortality t o l i ght t hr ough t he gospel ( 1. 10) .
Just as from t he age bef or e t he wor l d God gave gr ace, so i nt o t he age after t hi s
wor l d Ti mot hy and Paul wi l l cont i nue t o abi de i n God' s gr ace.
Yet, t hi s shar i ng i n et ernal life, gai ni ng et ernal gl or y i n Chr i st Jesus ( 2. 10) ,
requi res cert ai n act i ons on t he par t of Ti mot hy and Paul . Fi rst , t hey mus t have
di ed wi t h Chri st t o al so l i ve wi t h hi m. Second, t hey mus t endur e t o r ei gn wi t h
hi m ( 2. 12a) . Thi r d, t hey cannot deny hi m or Chri st wi l l deny t hem ( 2. 12b) .
Al l t hree of t hese cl ai ms s eem t o envi si on a t i me after t he pr esent wor l d, whe n
one ma y l i ve and r ei gn wi t h Chr i st or fall under hi s j udgement . The t hi ngs t hat
happen on ' t hat day' i ncl ude bot h good for t hose wh o endur ed for t he gos pel ' s
sake and ill for t hose wh o di d not .
As i n 2 Thessal oni ans, Paul mus t assert t hat t he pr esent hour is not t he t i me
of t he fut ure; in t hi s case t he r esur r ect i on of t he dead has not al r eady t aken pl ace
( 2. 18) . For Paul , one mus t mai nt ai n a st ri ct di vi si on bet ween t he boundar y of
t i me di vi di ng t hi s wor l d and t he fut ure wor l d. Tal k t hat col l apses t hese t wo
different t i mes i s pr of ane chat t er ( 2. 16) t hat upset s t he faith of s ome ( 2. 18) .
Even t hough Paul awai t s ' t hat da y' and does not al l ow t hat t he pr esent is
act ual l y t he fut ure, he never t hel ess s eems t o consi der t hat he and Ti mot hy l i ve
in t he ' l ast da ys ' ( 3. 1) . Peopl e wi l l do all sort s of evi l deeds and say all sort s of
evi l wor ds ( 3. 2- 5) and Paul exhor t s Ti mot hy t o avoi d t hese peopl e ( 3. 5) , i mpl y-
i ng t hat t he t r oubl e of t he l ast days i s, i n fact for Paul , t he t r oubl es of t oday.
What Paul want s Ti mot hy t o consi der i n light of ' t hat day' is t hat , i f Chri st Jesus
wi l l i ndeed j udge t he l i vi ng and t he dead, and hi s Ki ngdom wi l l appear, t hen
Ti mot hy ought t o s pend hi s t i me i n t hi s wor l d bol dl y pr ocl ai mi ng t he mes s age
ent rust ed t o hi m ( 4. 1- 2) . On e subt l e cosmol ogi cal not e her e is t hat Paul di vi des
t he peopl e of t he cos mos i nt o t wo di st i nct cat egor i es, t hose l i vi ng and t hose
7. Ephesians through Philemon 123
dead. Event ual l y, even t he dead wi l l l i ve forever, or at l east t hose wh o bel i eved
i n Chri st . I n fact, Paul knows t hat hi s own t i me is at hand, t he t i me of hi s deat h
( 4. 6) and t hat ' on t hat da y' Paul wi l l r ecei ve t he cr own of r i ght eousness l ai d u p
for hi m, al ong wi t h al l t hose wh o l ong for hi s appear i ng ( 4. 8) .
Thus , i n 2 Ti mot hy, t he cos mos is di vi ded i nt o t he wor l d and heaven, t he
l i vi ng and t he dead, and t he t i me bef or e t i me, t he pr esent t i me, and fut ure t i me,
especi al l y t he t i me of ' t hat da y' . Fur t her mor e, t he pr esent t i me for Paul wr i t i ng
t hi s l et t er appar ent l y i nvol ves t he ' l ast days ' . Paul s eems r at her unconcer ned
about t hese last days , knowi ng he wi l l soon depar t and t hat God has r eser ved
for hi m a cr own of r i ght eousness. Theol ogi cal l y, we see t hat Paul t i es al l t he
different phas es of t he wor l d t o God' s wor k i n Chri st Jesus. Mor eover , Chri st
ma ke s pr ovi s i on for t he fut ure, i mmor t al i t y, life and t he abi l i t y t o r ei gn wi t h
hi m.
Paul uses t hese var i ous aspect s of hi s cos mol ogy t o exhor t Ti mot hy t o cert ai n
act i ons. Fi rst , Paul want s Ti mot hy t o endur e sufferi ng for t he sake of t he gospel
( 1. 8) , knowi ng t he si gni fi cance of t he gr ace of t hei r cal l i ng bot h i n t he pas t and
pr esent , knowi ng t hat God wi l l pr ot ect t he gift ent r ust ed t o t hem unt i l t he day
of Chri st . Second, Ti mot hy ought t o r emi nd t hose wh o m he i nst ruct s about t he
pot ent i al goods and ills of t he fut ure t i me i n or der t o convi nce t he congr egat i on
t o qui t ' wr angl i ng over wor ds ' ( 2. 14) . Thi r d, gi ven t hat t hey l i ve i n t he last
days, Ti mot hy ought t o avoi d t hose wh o do a vari et y of evi l s ( 3. 5) . Fi nal l y,
Ti mot hy ought t o pr ocl ai m t he mes s age wi t h bol dnes s and per si st i n t hi s wor k
whet her t hi ngs s eem f avour abl e or unf avour abl e ( 4. 1- 2) .
Titus
Of t he l et t ers expl or ed i n t hi s chapt er, Ti t us cont ai ns t he l east amount of cos -
mol ogi cal i mager y, t hough Paul us es t hi s l anguage as earl y as he does i n any
of t he l et t ers. I n ext ol l i ng God, Paul pr ocl ai ms God' s pr omi s ed hope of et ernal
life, s omet hi ng he pr omi s ed ' bef or e t he ages be ga n' ( 1. 2) . Thi s i nvocat i on
of ' bef or e t he ages ' st ands ' on t he ot her end of t he t empor al s pect r um' from
et ernal l i f e.
2 8
The wor ki ng of God spans bot h bef or e t i me and after t i me and
agai n f ocuses on t he el ect wh o ar e t he benefi ci ari es of God' s omni - t empor al
wor k. Yet at var i ous appoi nt ed t i mes God r eveal ed hi s wor d t hr ough pr ocl ama-
t i on, i n whi ch Paul n o w part i ci pat es ( 1. 3) . The i dea her e s eems t o be t hat God' s
wor d wa s pr ocl ai med at var i ous t i mes , per haps referri ng t o t he t i mes of t he
pr ophet s or per haps t o var i ous pr ocl amat i ons of t he gospel by var i ous ser vant s
of t he gospel , i ncl udi ng Paul . I n any case, we find t hat Paul agai n envi si ons
t he cos mos i n t hr ee di st i nct phas es of t i me, wi t h t he mi ddl e t i me di vi ded i nt o
' t i mes ' of t he pr ocl amat i on of t he wor d.
28. R. F. Collins, 1 &2 Timothy and Titus (NTL; Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 2002),
p. 305.
124 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
Ti t us ought t o i nst ruct ol der men, ol der women, younger me n and sl aves
about t he conduct appr opr i at e t o t hei r st at us i n l i ght of t hei r part i ci pat i on i n t he
Jesus communi t y ( 2. 1- 10) . The r eason for t hi s i s t hat t he appear ance of God' s
sal vat i on demands t hat peopl e r enounce ' i mpi et y and wor l dl y pas s i ons ' and i n
t hi s ' pr esent a ge ' t o l i ve godl y l i ves, ant i ci pat i ng t he fixture whe n t he gl or y of
God and Jesus Chri st i s mani f est ( 2. 11- 12) . Li ke ma ny of t he pr evi ous l et t ers,
Paul ment i ons t he pr evi ous ages, but hi s mai n concer n is for t he pr esent t i me
in t he wor l d i n l i ght of t he fut ure age. One mus t l i ve a godl y life i n t hi s wor l d
in l i ght of t he next . What Ti t us can assur e t he peopl e of i s t hat t hey ar e hei r s
of t he hope of et ernal life ( 3. 7- 8) , signified by t hei r r enewal i n t he Hol y Spi ri t
( 3. 5- 6) .
Thus , God wor ks in t he cos mos i n t he past , present , and fut ure on behal f of
t he el ect . In l i ght of t hi s wor k, especi al l y as t hey awai t t he comi ng mani f est a-
t i on of t he gl or y of God and Jesus Chri st , Ti t us ought t o i nst ruct var i ous gr oups
in t he chur ch t o l i ve godl y l i ves i n t he present . The wor ki ng of t he Hol y Spi ri t
in t he i mmedi at e i s a sur e si gn of t hei r fut ure hope.
8
T H E C O S MO L O G Y OF H E B R E WS
1
J o n L a a n s ma
What is a Study of the Cosmology of Hebrews?
Sat el l i t e pi ct ur es of eart h can t ake qui t e different f or ms, dependi ng on t he dat a
t hat i s desi red. A convent i onal i mage di spl ays a gi ven r egi on i n ' t r ue col our '
form, as we woul d expect it t o appear wer e we t o l ook at it wi t h our own eyes
from t he wi ndow of a space shut t l e. An i nfrared phot o woul d gi ve a ver y differ-
ent i mage, one t hat humans woul d not see wi t h t he ' naked e ye ' , t hough it woul d
not for t hat r eason be s omet hi ng ot her t han a real i mage of t he s ame area.
Looki ng at t he t ext of Hebr ews for its cosmol ogy is somet hi ng l i ke t aki ng an
infrared phot o of t he book. By t he book' s ' cos mol ogy' I mean t he descriptions)
of creat ed reality t hat are expressed or assumed or i mpl i ed i n t hi s letter, i ncl ud-
i ng creat ed real i t y' s history, its st ruct ure, its i nhabi t ant s, and t o s ome ext ent its
meani ng. Gi ven t he number and nat ure of t he connect i ons bet ween cosmol ogy
pr oper and t he eart hl y/ heavenl y t abernacl es, t hese mus t be consi dered t oget her and
t he latter, t he sanct uari es, wi l l feature pr omi nent l y in t he fol l owi ng di scussi on.
It mus t be sai d i mmedi at el y t hat cos mol ogy i n t he nar r ower sense, wi t hout
r egar d t o t he heavenl y sanct uary, i s not what Hebr ews is ' about ' , as i f t he wr i t er
2
wer e compos i ng a t reat i se for t he sake of i nf or mi ng hi s chur chl y r eader s on t he
poi nt . It i s not what l eaps out at t he ' naked e ye ' . Yet, as shoul d be obvi ous ,
and as t he f ol l owi ng wi l l dr aw out , cos mol ogy is cert ai nl y there behi nd and
wi t hi n t he Let t er ' s t heol ogy and ar gument . An d it can be hi ghl i ght ed i n a wa y
t hat mar ks its cont our s, t hough admi t t edl y wi t h i nst r ument s l ess scientifically
pr eci se t han t hose us ed on our sat el l i t e.
1. The writing of this essay was assisted by an Aldeen Grant from Wheaton College and by
the helpful critiques of several colleagues and friends. Among the latter, besides the editors of this
volume, I wish to name Stephen Spencer (theology), Joseph Spradley (physics), Douglas Penney
(science and faith), Daniel Treier (hermeneutics), and John Walton (Old Testament and Ancient
Near East). Any mistakes are entirely my responsibility.
2. For my view on authorship, date, audience, etc. see my / Will Give You Rest (WUNT 2.98;
Tubingen: J. C. B. Mohr [Paul Siebeck], 1997), esp. pp. 252-74; cf. also my article, 'Hebrews',
in K. J. Vanhoozer (ed.), Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of Scripture (Grand Rapids:
Baker, 2005), pp. 274-81.
126 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
Why Study the Cosmology of Hebrews?
Sci ent i st s, at l east , do not t ake i nf rared phot os s i mpl y becaus e we can nor
si mpl y becaus e t hey are pret t y. They do so becaus e t hey are after par t i cul ar
dat a (e. g. , st udyi ng h ow t he Gul f St r eam act ual l y l ooks) , and t hi s dat a has been
deemed r el evant for s ome l arger set of quest i ons t hat t hey are convi nced is
i mpor t ant (e. g. , sai l i ng i n t he Nor t h At l ant i c) . Thi s anal ogy rai ses t he quest i on
for us , ' For what i s t he evi dence r egar di ng He br e ws ' cos mol ogy r el evant ? What
l arger quest i ons pr ompt us t o ask after it i n t he first pl ace?'
Fi rst , cos mol ogy bear s on a per enni al quest i on of He br e ws , t o wi t , whet her
t he book' s concept ual backgr ound i s cl oser t o t hat of t he Al exandr i an J e w Phi l o
( as one r ef er ence poi nt a mong ot her s on t hat end of t hi ngs ) or t o t hat of t he
J ewi s h apocal ypt i ci s m t hat we see i n 4 Ezra, Paul ' s wr i t i ngs , and Revel at i on
( agai n, t o ci t e onl y r epr es ent at i ves ) .
3
The i mpor t ance of t hi s ques t i on i s wel l
kn own t o i nt er pr et er s of t hi s l et t er and wi l l not be det ai l ed her e. However ,
wi t hi n t hi s set of ques t i ons t he book' s cos mol ogy r evol ves wi t h ever yt hi ng
el se ar ound t he cycl e of t he i nt er pr et er ' s pr es uppos i t i ons i n appr oachi ng a
gi ven pas s age ( t he downs t r oke of t he cycl e: wi l l t he i nt er pr et er tend t o r ead
a gi ven pas s age i n He br e ws , e. g. , 11. 3, in l i ne wi t h Phi l o' s or Gnos t i ci s m' s
dual i s m as oppos ed t o t hat of apocal ypt i ci s m?) ver s us t he wa y i n whi ch t he
exeges i s of a speci fi c pas s age mi ght s hape t he i nt er pr et er ' s pr es uppos i t i ons
( t he ups t r oke) . Ther e i s no t r ans cendi ng t hi s cycl e, but on ' cr i t i cal r eal i st '
gr ounds t her e is hope t hat it can r epr es ent a spiral toward t rut hful under s t and-
i ng of t he i nt ended s ens e of t he di s cour s e as Scr i pt ur e r at her t han mer el y
a vicious circle i n t he exer ci s e of t he aut onomous h u ma n r eader ' s wi l l t o
power .
4
For our pur pos es , t he i nt er est of what f ol l ows is not t o ent er di r ect l y
i nt o t he ques t i on of t he r el i gi ous- hi st or i cal backgr ound of He br e ws , but we
wi l l bear t hat i n mi nd as it affect s and is affect ed by refl ect i on di r ect l y on t he
l et t er ' s cos mol ogy.
5
3. See the survey in L. D. Hurst, The Epistle to the Hebrews: Its Background of Thought
(SNTSMS 65; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990).
4. Giving warrant to this optimism and further explanation of what it involves is D. J. Treier,
Virtue and the Voice of God (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006).
5. This debate constitutes the driving concern of another and very helpful study of this
topic: E. Adams, 'The Cosmology of Hebrews
,
)
in R. J. Bauckham, D. R. Driver, T. A. Hart
and N. MacDonald (eds), The Epistle to the Hebrews and Christian Theology (Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, forthcoming 2008). Specifically, Adams' question is whether 'Hebrews evinces a
radical cosmological (indeed anti-cosmic) dualism that negates the created, physical world'. His
answer: 'Rather than displaying a radical cosmological dualism that negates creation and the
material world, the cosmological ethos of the epistle to the Hebrews, as I read it, is decidedly pro-
creationaF. He argues further that there is enough in Hebrews to deduce that the writer expected
a 'new creation'.
8. Hebrews 127
Secondl y, He br e ws ' cos mol ogy does ent er i nt o open vi ew as an aspect of
sal vat i on itself; it is not merely a mong t he wr i t er of He br e ws ' pr esupposi t i ons.
Sal vat i on i n t hi s l et t er i s const r ued t o a si gni fi cant degr ee i n local t er ms : it
i s a dest i nat i on of r edeemed humani t y, a place under var i ous na me s ( rest i ng
pl ace, city, t hr one r oom, et c. ; see bel ow) . Cor r espondi ngl y, ver bs of move me nt
( especi al l y eiospxoMca and TrpooepxoMai)
6
ar e pr omi nent wi t hi n t he char ac-
t er i zat i on of huma n i nvol vement i n sal vat i on. I n 12. 18- 29 t hi s l ocal e mi ngl es
t opi cal l y wi t h cosmol ogy, maki ng s omewhat expl i ci t what i s i mpl i ci t t hr ough-
out . Mor e ove r t her e i s, a mong ot her t hi ngs, a ver y definite ear t hl y- heavenl y
dual i t y
7
at pl ay wi t hi n t he l et t er ' s chr i st ol ogy and sot eri ol ogy, t her e i s an expl i ci t
r ef er enci ng of cos mogony, and t her e is a st r ong ant i ci pat i on of cr eat i on' s telos.
Cos mol ogy ma y not b e t he ma i n t heme of t hi s homi l y but it cannot b e const r ued
as ext r aneous t o t he book' s act ual i nt erest s and so it mus t be cons i der ed as an
as pect of its theology}
Thi rdl y, t her e i s t he quest i on of real i t y i t sel f as t he t ext ' s referent , whi ch
r emai ns a concer n of al l wh o r ead t he Let t er from wi t hi n t he fai t h it commends .
' Real i t y' i n t hi s sense is what mus t exi st i f t he human mi nd is t o have somet hi ng
t o t al k or t hi nk about i n t he first pl ace, i n any wa y what soever . Fai t h, l ove, and
hope woul d sel f-dest ruct i f t hei r real i t i es - t hat whi ch i s bel i eved ( i n) , l oved,
and hope d for - wer e s hown t o be mi r ages . Wi t hi n t he J ewi s h and Chr i st i an
t radi t i ons t hems el ves it has al ways been t aken for gr ant ed t hat t he hoped- f or
real i t i es wi l l out do our scr i pt ur al l y- shaped i magi nat i ons, but gener al l y wi t hi n
anal ogi cal l i mi t s wher e revel at i on pert ai ns. That t hi s i s t he faith ' c omme nde d'
b y t he l et t er is evi dent t hr oughout , and not l east at 11. 1-3 i n di rect connect i on
wi t h t he quest i on of t he cos mos . So, i n short , t he quest i ons are: Wh a t is out
t her e? Ho w and wher e di d it begi n? Whe r e i s it now? Wher e is it goi ng? Is t her e
a ' wh y ' t o it? An d so forth. Her e t he r eader of Hebr ews j oi ns company wi t h
phi l os opher s and sci ent i st s from wi t hi n and out si de of t hat faith, wi t h al l of t he
us ual compl ement ar i t i es and di s agr eement s , i n a communal sear ch for a faithful
under s t andi ng. Of cour s e any such di scussi on, i f it i s t o be fruitful, mus t i nvol ve
at s ome poi nt an at t empt act ual l y t o r ead t hi s letter.
Four t hl y, ver y di rect l y r el at ed t o t hi s, t her e ar e t he i mpl i cat i ons of our refl ec-
t i ons for t heol ogy and for pr act i ce ( and vi ce ver sa) . Si mpl y t o ment i on t hem:
For bi bl i cal t heol ogy t her e is t he quest i on of canoni cal coher ence, e. g. , wi t h
Roma n s 8 and ot her t hemes , and possi bl y canoni cal devel opment . For s ys t em-
at i c t heol ogy t her e i s t he quest i on of her meneut i cs , e. g. , Bul t mann' s pr ogr a mme
6. For a protracted discussion of this terminology, see J. M. Scholar, Proleptic Priests
(JSNTSS 49; Sheffield: JSOT, 1991), pp. 91-184.
7. On the term duality versus dualism and the varieties thereof, see N. T. Wright, The New
Testament and the People of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992), pp. 252-6; Laansma, Rest,
pp. 255-7.
8. Adams, 'Cosmology', insists on the same point
128 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
of demyt hol ogi zat i on.
9
For pr act i ce t her e ar e i mpl i cat i ons for t he Chr i st i an
appr oach t o t he pr esent wor l d, e. g. , t o t he envi r onment
1 0
and t o each other.
In short , t her e ar e i n fact a good ma ny l arger quest i ons t hat war r ant t hi s
' i nf r ar ed p h o t o ' of He br e ws . It cannot be our under t aki ng t o ans wer all
t hese quest i ons, or any of t hem satisfactorily, but t hey wi l l be bor ne i n mi nd
t hr oughout .
How is the Cosmology of Hebrews to be Studied?
Ther e are different possi bl e appr oaches t o st udyi ng t he cosmol ogy of Hebr ews .
One appr oach woul d be t o st ay as cl ose as possi bl e t o t he book' s ar gument
- its rhet ori cal st rat egi es, l i t erary st ruct ure, t heol ogi cal l ogi c - and t o depi ct
its cos mol ogy as conveyed t hr ough t hese el ement s. Thi s appr oach is a vi t al
and necessar y one. Har ol d At t r i dge i s ri ght t hat ' t he concent r at i on on' con-
cept ual paral l el s i n cont empor ar y wr i t i ngs such as t hose of Phi l o or 4 Ezra
' ma y obscur e t he dynami cs of He br e ws ' ar gument , whi ch shoul d serve as t he
f undament al cri t eri on by whi ch t o assess t he wor k' s t hought .
1 1
Thi s is t he sort
of t hi ng I have done el sewher e, at l east i n part , and I wi l l have t hose refl ect i ons
i n mi nd.
1 2
The concl usi on t her e wa s t hat for t he wr i t er of Hebr ews t he cos mos i s
dest i ned t o be c ome God' s t empl e.
1 3
Al t hough t he i mager y of t empl e and cul t us
is not monol i t hi c or empl oyed wi t h syst emat i c consi st ency, for t hi s wr i t er t he
heavenl y t aber nacl e r epr esent s t he fut ure of t he cos mos , not si mpl y of bel i ev-
9. R. Bultmann famously threw down the gauntlet with these words: 'The cosmology of
the New Testament is essentially mythical in character. The world is viewed as a three-storied
structure, with the earth in the centre, the heaven above, and the underworld beneath... To this
extent the kerygma is incredible to modern man, for he is convinced that the mythical view of
the world is obsolete*. 'New Testament and Mythology', in H. W. Bartsch (ed.), Kerygma and
Myth (New York: Harper and Row, 1961), pp. 1,3. The kerygma must be 'demythologized\ The
exegetical and hermeneutical problems attached to questions of cosmology in the NT writings
are indeed numerous and daunting. J. D. G. Dunn registers the problems and the resulting dearth
of studies with respect to the ascension in Acts in his "The Ascension of Jesus: A Test Case for
Hermeneutics', in F. Avemarie and H. Lichtenberger (eds), Auferstehung - Resurrection (WUNT
135; Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2001), p. 301.
10. Cf. D. J. Moo, 'Nature in the New Creation: New Testament Eschatology and the Environ-
ment', JETS 493 (2006), 449-88.
11. H. Attridge,' "Let Us Strive to Enter That Rest": The Logic of Hebrews 4:1-11', HTR 73
(1980), 279-88 (280; cf. 287-8).
12. 'Hidden Stories in Hebrews: Cosmology and Theology', in R. Bauckham and N. Mac-
Donald (eds), A Cloud of Witnesses: The Theology of Hebrews in its Ancient Context (LNTS;
London: T&T Clark, forthcoming 2008).
13. As is commonly done, I will use the word temple, though Hebrews limits itself to the
wilderness tabernacle (oKrjvrj), including at 13.10.1 presume that for this writer, what he says of
the tabernacle applies equally to the temple; cf. Laansma, Rest, p. 12 n. 64.
8. Hebrews 1 2 9
e r s .
1 4
Addi t i onal l y, he does not as s ume t hat , wi t h bel i ever s safel y r el ocat ed
in t he et ernal heavens , t he cr eat ed wor l d wi l l be s ummar i l y anni hi l at ed and
negat ed
1 5
but t hat , begi nni ng wi t h t he bodi l y deat h at Gol got ha, resurrect i on,
and ascensi on of Jesus, t he cr eat ed wor l d i s bei ng cl eansed and r ecl ai med as
God' s t empl e.
1 6
Whi l e I have pai d at t ent i on t o t hi s sort of study, t he appr oach i n t he pr esent
chapt er wi l l be different. The appr oach her e wi l l be t o abst ract and synt hesi ze
el ement s wi t hout r egar d for h ow t hey are depl oyed and wei ght ed wi t hi n t he
book i t sel f.
1 7
For exampl e, wi t hi n t he ar gument of Hebr ews angel s get mor e
pl ay t han bodi l y resurrect i on, t hough t he latter wi l l r ecei ve equal i f not gr eat er
14. To be distinguished from the view noted by H. W. Attridge, The Epistle to the Hebrews
(Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1989), pp. 222f. n. 88.
15. E.g., M. E. Isaacs, Sacred Space (JSNTSS 73; Sheffield: JSOT, 1992): The writer of
Hebrews urges his readers 'to move beyond an understanding of sacred territory as located geo-
graphically on earth to an appreciation of its re-location as a beatific state in heaven' (p. 82);
again, 'Hebrews does not speak of a restoration of sacred space on earth but of its re-location
in heaven (p. 86, adding that this is in contrast to Jewish apocalyptic writings that do speak of a
renewal of the earth; cf. pp. 65, 67). Also Attridge, Hebrews, on Heb. 12.27: 'Hebrews does not
seem to suggest, as do some apocalyptists, a renewal of heaven and earth. What is expected is
'rather the complete destruction of what, because it can be "shaken", is transitory. The language
thus reflects other strands of apocalyptic speculation that predicted the annihilation of the visible
universe' (p. 381, citing as support for the latter 4 Ezra 7.31; 1 Cor. 7.31; 1 Jn 2.8, 17; Rev.
21.1).
16. The argument against cosmic renewal (see Isaacs and Attridge above) is the easier argu-
ment to make in Hebrews on prima facie grounds, and the claim in favour of renewal is often
given in the form of assertion - perhaps based on general associations with apocalyptic parallels
which involve the idea - rather than exegetical argument. An exception to the latter is Adams,
'Cosmology*. In my essay 'Hidden Stories' I do foreground those aspects of the book that argue
for the 'renewal' interpretation. At the same time the fact that the author of Hebrews does not
make the statement of 2 Pet. 3.13 or Rev. 21.1 (although see Heb. 1.12; 9.11) remains noteworthy
and must make us pause before too quickly and too easily using metaphors such as 'renewal',
'renovation', and 'transformation'. In my view the resurrection of Jesus would have been the
basis of Christian reflection on the nature of salvific transformation (1 Corinthians 15). This
entailed ideas of both radical continuity and discontinuity with the original creation, so metaphors
can range from renewal to annihilation and replacement. Hebrews' rhetoric tends toward the latter
end (though 12.25-29 has been misread, as I argue in 'Hidden Stories') but does not exclude the
former, and the former seems worked rather thoroughly, albeit quietly, into the book's fabric.
In any event, less often noticed and argued is the cosmos-temple element (in this form) of my
proposal. G. Beale, The Temple and the Church's Mission (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press,
2004), does the most to anticipate it based on his general thesis regarding the canon as a whole,
but his points with respect to Hebrews - interesting on their own - do not constitute a compelling
framework for the idea within Hebrews itself.
17. Such attempts to synthesize the book's cosmology are not common. Cf. P. Ellingworth,
'Jesus and the Universe in Hebrews', EvQ 58 (1986), 337-50; G. W. MacRae, 'Heavenly
Temple and Eschatology in the Letter to the Hebrews', Semeia 12 (1978), 179-99; Adams,
'Cosmology'.
1 3 0 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
emphasi s i n t he fol l owi ng sket ch. Of cour se no one does t hi s sort of t hi ng wi t hout
a pr e- exi st i ng gri d, s ome hypot hes i zed const r uct t hat assi st s i n connect i ng t he
dot s. I n t he i nt erest s of full di scl osur e, t hen, I wi l l be begi nni ng wi t h t he gener al
descr i pt i ons of cos mol ogy i n ant i qui t y such as t hey are l ai d out for t he OT
per i od by, e. g. , J ohn Wal t on,
1 8
or for t he NT by, e. g. , Bul t mann (i n a s omewhat
cri t i cal cont ext ) .
1 9
I wi l l al so be r eadi ng t he t ext wi t h t he concl usi ons on t he
hi st ori cal - rel i gi ous backgr ound of t he l et t er t hat I have expr essed el s ewher e.
2 0
I n short , I find compar i s ons wi t h t he l i near hi st ori cal , eschat ol ogi cal concep-
t i ons of J ewi s h and Chr i st i an apocal ypt i c t o be mor e fruitful t han compar i s ons
wi t h Phi l o and Gnos t i ci s m as a wa y of under st andi ng t he t hought wor l d of t hi s
book. It is not my desi re t o force He b r e ws ' st at ement s i nt o t hese apocal ypt i c
concept i ons but t o admi t t he pl ace of t he l at t er i n my t hi nki ng and t o pr oceed
from t her e. The degr ee t o whi ch t hi s i s ri ght - or wr ong- headed wi l l be open t o
j udgement , but i f anyone di sagr ees wi t h my anal ysi s it wi l l not be becaus e he
or she t r anscends t hi s her meneut i cal ci rcl e.
Preliminary Observations: Cosmology in Antiquity and Sacred Space
Two gener al comment s wi l l serve t o gi ve a br oad ori ent at i on t o our i nvest i ga-
t i on. Fi rst , comment i ng on t he cos mol ogi es of t he Anci ent Near East ( ANE) ,
J ohn Wal t on wr i t es,
Like everyone else in the ancient world, Egyptians were less interested in that which
was physical than in that which was metaphysical - what lies beyond physical reality.
Nut, as the sky goddess, is portrayed arching her body over the disk shaped earth.
She is often supported by the hands of the god of the air while the earth god, Geb, lies
prone at her feet. This is not a physical representation. The Egyptians did not believe
that one could go step on Nut's toes, or throw a rock and hit her knees. Instead the
portrayal communicates important truths concerning what the Egyptians believed
about authority and jurisdiction in the cosmos. These truths concern function, not
substance. Though they may not deal with the material world per se, they represent
reality - a greater reality than the material world offered. The cosmos functioned
by means of the gods playing out their roles. Whatever the physical structure of
the heavens, it was not a priority to them. To describe creation is to describe the
establishment of the functioning cosmos, not the origins of the material structure
or substance of the cosmos. Material substance had relatively little importance or
relevance to their understanding of the world.
21
At l east at s ome poi nt s i n t hat par agr aph Wal t on' s wor di ng does not excl ude
ent i r el y an i nt er est i n ' mat er i al st r uct ur e or s ubs t ance' , and, i n any event , hi s
18. J. Walton, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker,
2006).
19. Bultmann, 'New Testament and Mythology'.
20. See my discussion in Rest, esp. pp. 10-13,253-9, 317-58.
21. Walton, Ancient Near Eastern Thought, p. 181.
8. Hebrews 131
depi ct i on woul d ha ve t o be qual i fi ed b y t he t i me we r each t he Gr a e c o- Roma n
wor l d of t he first cent ur y i n ge ne r a l .
2 2
But Wal t on' s c omme nt i s r el evant
as a des cr i pt i on of t he OT wor l d t hat s haped t he Scr i pt ur es of t he wr i t er of
He br e ws , and it i s t he pos i t i ve poi nt r egar di ng ( ANE) ant i qui t y' s domi nat i ng
metaphysical and functional i nt er est t hat i s i mpor t ant t o regi st er. At t hat poi nt
Wal t on' s char act er i zat i on hol ds as a good mode l for t he ent i r et y of He br e ws ,
i ncl udi ng 11.3 and 12. 27. Wha t e ve r t he wr i t er of He br e ws mi ght have sai d i n
anot her cont ext , i n t hi s l et t er not hi ng goes even as far as 1 Cor. 15. 35- 54 i n
t he di r ect i on of addr es s i ng ques t i ons of mat er i al st r uct ur e or s ubs t ance. We
cannot as s ume t hat t he wr i t er of He br e ws wa s awar e of Gr e e k concept i ons of
t he ear t h as a s pher e and debat es over whet her t he ear t h ci r cl ed t he s un or t he
s un t he ear t h;
2 3
but nei t her can we a s s ume , as Bul t ma nn s eemed t o do, t hat
he t ook hi s c os mol ogy and t al k of t he heavenl y t aber nacl e as st r ai ght f or war d
st r uct ur al descr i pt i on. Thes e t wo we r e never t he onl y opt i ons i n under s t and-
i ng t he us e of cos mol ogi cal and heavenl y s anct uar y l anguage. I n wh a t wa y
t hi s par t i cul ar t hi nker - from wh o m we have but one a nonymous di s cour s e
of uncer t ai n soci al l ocat i on - wa s even awar e of our f or m of t he ques t i on
cannot b e mor e t han gues s ed at . But from wha t i s her e it appear s t hat as far as
cos mol ogy and t he heavenl y t aber nacl e ar e concer ned t he wr i t er of He br e ws
wa s cont ent t o f ol l ow t hr ough wi t h t he pr i nci pl e of 11.1 - 3 - t o accept by fai t h
t he Wor d of Scr i pt ur e, r ead chr i st ol ogi cal l y - and t o concer n bot h hi ms el f and
hi s r eader s wi t h t he meaning of it al l as t hat Scr i pt ur al pr oj ect i on i s car r i ed
t hr ough t o t he telos.
Secondl y, it wa s not ed above t hat sal vat i on i s a di st i nct l y local concept i n
Hebr ews , a dest i nat i on of t he peopl e of God t hat goes under different names . At
t he hear t of t hi s concept ual i zat i on is t he di vi ne t hr one and pr es ence coor di nat ed
wi t h t he Mos t Hol y Pl ace of t he ear t hl y and heavenl y t aber nacl es. Thi s br i ngs
us, i n t urn, t o t he i dea of sacr ed s pace.
2 4
I n t he wor l d of Israel space mi ght be
rel i gi ousl y char ged on t he model of concent r i c spher es of decr easi ng hol i ness
as one move s out war d from a cent r e,
2 5
havi ng a part i al anal ogue i n t he amount
22. Cf., e.g., O. Neugebauer, The Exact Sciences in Antiquity, 2nd edn (New York: Barnes
& Noble, Inc., 1993); M. R. Wright, Cosmology in Antiquity (New York: Routledge, 1995); and
Edward Adams' essay in the present volume.
23. See, e.g., J. Painter, 'Creation, Cosmology', in R. P. Martin and P. H. Davids (eds), Diction-
ary of the Later New Testament and its Developments (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1997),
pp. 250-5; cf. N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press,
2003), p. 655; A. C. Thiselton, The Two Horizons (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), p. 288.
24. Note, among others, Isaacs, Sacred Space; J. Dunnill, Covenant and Sacrifice in the Letter
to the Hebrews (SNTSMS, 75; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992); Walton, Ancient
Near Eastern Thought, pp. 118-23.
25. Cf. m. Kel 1.6-9, which mentions 'ten [degrees] of holiness[es]', as one moves out from
the Most Holy Place to the entire land of Israel; cf. J. Neusner (ed.), The Mishnah. A New Transla-
tion (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988), pp. 894-5.
132 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
of radi at i on t hat woul d be measur ed as one moved t owar d and away from Cher-
nobyl in 1986. Cer t ai n l ocat i ons such as J acob' s st ai r way ( Genesi s 28) and
t he Mos t Hol y Pl ace of t he t aber nacl e and t empl e wer e t hought of as ki nds of
' por t al s t hr ough whi ch t he gods t r aver s ed' .
2 6
The Mos t Hol y Pl ace wa s a poi nt
of i nt ersect i on bet ween heaven and ear t h
2 7
and t he cent r e of Israel as sacred
space. Mor eover , pr eci sel y i n t hi s connect i on it wa s a pl ace i nt egral l y rel at ed t o
cr eat i on
2 8
and t he cos mos . Agai n, Wal t on:
Since the temple on earth was considered only a type of the larger, archetypal cosmic
temple, many images and symbols evoke the relationship between temple and cosmos.
The temple is considered the centre of the cosmos, and in itself a microcosmos...
In Syro-Palestine the temple was the architectural embodiment of the cosmic moun-
tain. This concept is represented in Ugaritic literature as well as the Bible, where
Mount Zion is understood as the mountain of the Lord (e.g., Ps. 48) and the place
where his temple, a representation of Eden, was built. 'For ancient Israel, the Temple
of Solomon - indeed, the Temple Mount and all Jerusalem - was a symbol as well as
reality, a mythopoeic realization of heaven on earth, Paradise, the Garden of Eden'.
29
The sanctuary of Israel represented a small, idealized island of order in a world of
threatened chaos. It was a place that preserved equilibrium for God's presence, which
in turn was an anchor against disorder. Preserving sacred space provided for God's
continued presence. God's continued presence served to maintain equilibrium and
uphold creation.
30
Whet her in t he end it wi l l r emai n t rue t hat ' not al l t hat count s can be
count ed' , one mi ght yet wi s h t o i nsi st on it for our pr esent under st andi ng of
our wor l d. The cul t i c and heavenl y- ear t hl y dynami cs of sacr ed space i nt roduce
i nt o Hebr ews el ement s t hat are not nat ur al ones ( t hough per haps not i nconcei v-
abl e) for moder n concept i ons of t he space- t i me uni ver se. It i s i n l i ne wi t h t hi s
as s umed wor l d t hat Chr i st ' s deat h can be por t r ayed bot h as an eart hl y and heav-
enl y event , wi t h t he eart hl y cent r e of sacr ed space shifted from t he Jer usal em
Templ e t o Gol got ha. It is al so i n l i ne wi t h t hi s t hat I el s ewher e mount t he argu-
ment t hat for t he wr i t er of Hebr ews t he t aber nacl e r epr esent s t he fut ure of t he
cl eansed cos mos ( see above) . The l ocal i zed sacr ed offeri ng on Gol got ha wi l l
26. Walton, Ancient Near Eastern Thought, p. 118.
27. Note the cover illustration of Walton, Ancient Near Eastern Thought, depicting the Shamash
plaque (c. ninth-sixth centuries BCE) about which Walton comments, p. 168, 'The Shamash plaque
is particularly informative as it shows worshipers who, though physically in the earthly temple,
view themselves before Shamash's heavenly throne. The heavenly waters are beneath his feet and
the stars are shown in the sky across the bottom of the picture'.
28. See especially J. Walton, Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology (Eisenbrauns, forthcoming). In
this same work Walton takes up and develops further several points I am mentioning here.
29. Walton, Ancient Near Eastern Thought, pp. 123, 127 (citing L. Stager, 'Jerusalem as
Eden', BAR 26 [2000], 37).
30. Walton, 'Equilibrium and the Sacred Compass: The Structure of Leviticus', BBR 11.2
(2001), 296-7.
8. Hebrews 133
radi at e t hr ough t he ent i re cos mos . For t he pr esent it is all we can do t o regi st er
t hi s dynami c as essent i al t o t he cosmol ogi cal t hought of t hi s di scour se.
The Structure of the Cosmos in Hebrews
Gi ven t he above ori ent at i on we can di st i l from t he di scour se of Hebr ews its
por t r ayal of creat i on. Cr eat i on consi st s of t he vi si bl e eart h and heaven ( sky) ,
wi t h t he i nvi si bl e heaven ( God' s abode) above. No at t ent i on is gi ven t o deat h
as a pl ace, an under wor l d,
3 1
and it is not cl ear t hat t he wr i t er has an i nt er medi at e
sphere bet ween eart h and heaven i n mi nd in 2. 6- 9.
3 2
The per spect i ve i s not
ant i - cosmi c. The wr i t er affirms t he creat i on account s of t he OT, cl ai ms t hat
s ame Cr eat or God as t he Fat her of t he Son, and affirms cr eat i on itself, all of
whi ch pl aces hi m on a different t raj ect ory t han t he Gnos t i cs .
3 3
The Son' s rol e
i s pi ct ur ed i n t er ms r emi ni scent of wi s dom i n t he OT and ot her J ewi s h t ext s.
Cr eat i on wa s br ought about t hr ough (5i ou [1. 2]) t he Son and by (Si bu = effi-
ci ent cause [2. 10]) God. It wa s cr eat ed by t he wor d of God (pr)Mcm 8eoSj, 11. 3),
and i s bor ne up ( per haps al so ' bor ne along')
34
by t he wor d of t he Son' s power
(TCO pr j ucm "T% 6uva| i Scos CCUTOU, 1.3). Al l t hi ngs exi st on account of (61
ov = final c a us e
3 5
[2. 10]) God, and compr i s e t he i nheri t ance of t he Son ( 1. 2) .
3 6
The flow of hi st ory bet ween t hese pol es of pr ot ol ogy and eschat ol ogy cont ai ns
31. It is clearly implied, however: 13.20 (cf. 5.7; 6.2; 11.19, 35). See also 10.27, 31; 12.29.
Demons are not mentioned (they may be included in the generic ex6poi of 1.13 and 10.13), and
the Devil (2.14) is not localized beyond his association with death.
32. The latter pace Ellingworth, 'Universe', pp. 341,349 (comparing and contrasting Hebrews
to Ascension of Isaiah 7-9; Slavonic Enoch 1-20; Greek Apocalypse of Baruch; Test. Levi 2.3).
Though Hebrews' imagery itself speaks of being higher and lower than the angels, nothing in
2.6-9 requires a spatially separate sphere, an intermediary world, and 12.22 is against it. The
author's imagery may well assume this intermediate sphere, but we cannot know this with any
confidence and it shouldn't lead to the complications that Ellingworth struggles with on p. 349.
33. Among others, cf. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews (NIGTC; Grand Rapids: Eerd-
mans, 1993), pp. lOOf. This of course also removes him from Marcion's trajectory.
34. Ellingworth, Hebrews, pp. 100f., takes <(>epco in the sense of 'sustain' rather than 'bear
along'. B. F. Westcott, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 2nd edn (London: MacMillan and Co., 1892),
p. 13, gives the sense as a 'present and continuous support and carrying forward to their end of all
created things'.
35. Westcott, Hebrews, p. 48; P. E. Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), p. 98.
36. The Holy Spirit is not assigned a role in cosmology in any direct sense within the discourse
of Hebrews. In two ways perhaps the Spirit is implicated, however. The Spirit's association with
divine speech hints at a relationship with both the original act of creation and the sustaining of
the cosmos (11.3; 1.3), on the one hand, and the act of salvation (which can be coordinated with
ideas of 'new creation') on the other; cf. 3.7; 9.8; 10.15. Secondly, the Spirit is closely bound up
with the action that brings cleansing to the cosmos (9.14; 10.29) and with the share of believers in
the 'present and future' sacred space of salvation (2.4; note the terminological tie with Josh. 11.23
and the theme of inheritance in Hebrews generally; 6.4).
134 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
God' s t es t i mony t o hi s ' gr eat sal vat i on' t hr ough ' s i gns , wonder s , and mani f ol d
deeds of p owe r ' ( 2. 4; cf. al so ch. 11).
The cr eat i on event i t sel f can be s poken of ei t her el l i pt i cal l y ( 1. 2; 2. 10) or as
a maki ng (TTOIECO, 1.2; cf. 12. 27), f oundi ng (6EPEAI6CO, 1.10; KCCTafSoAr], 4. 3;
9. 26), er ect i ng (KCCTCCOKEUCC^CO, 3. 4), f ashi oni ng (KCCTCtpTi^co; 11. 3; cf. 10. 5;
13. 21), cr eat i ng ( yi vopcci, 11. 3; cf. 4. 3) , or si mpl y as t he wor ks of God' s hands
( 1. 10; cf. 4.3f., 10); t he resul t can be cal l ed a creat i on ( KTIOIS, 4. 13; 9. 11).
What is ma de i s, on t he one hand, t he vi si bl e eart h and he a ve ns .
3 7
On t he ot her
hand, t he heavenl y r eal m and pl ace of sal vat i on is al so s poken of as ma de by
God, cert ai nl y i n 11. 10 (cf. 13. 14), wher e God is t he craft sperson (TEXVITTIS,
de s i gne r )
3 8
and bui l der ( Sr j p i o u p y o s )
3 9
of t he ' ci t y havi ng f ounda t i ons ' ,
4 0
i n
11. 16, whe r e God ' pr e pa r e s ' (ETOipaco) a ci t y, and at 8. 2, whe r e Go d ' s et s
u p ' (Trrjyvupi) t he heavenl y t aber nacl e (cf. al so 1.2 and 4. 3) . On e ma y t hen
not e t hat i n 9.11 he does not wr i t e TOUT EOTI V ou KTIOECOS, but TOUT EOTI V ou
TaUTT|S T % KTIOECOS.
The st at ement about cr eat i on at 11.3 is mor e di rect l y i nt erest ed i n t he mat t er
of faith t han cos mogony. The wor di ng expr esses what t he vi si bl e uni ver s e wa s
37. It is debated whether TOUS ccicovocs in 1.2 is temporal (ages) or spatial (worlds), and
whether the plural equals a singular idea (world). Based on 11.3 Ellingworth, Hebrews, argues
that it is spatial and that the plural should be taken as 'referring to the visible and invisible
worlds... and thus denoting the totality of the universe' (p. 96; likewise Attridge, Hebrews, p. 41).
At 11.3 he understands xous ccicovas as the visible world only (p. 569). Koester, Hebrews,
p. 178, sees both spatial and temporal aspects in 1.2.
38. Cf, e.g., 1 Chr. 22.15; 29.5 (both regarding the temple); Wis. 13.1. Cognates are used of
the building of the tabernacle: Exod. 28.11; 30.25; 31.5; and the temple: 2 Kings 12.11; 22.6;
1 Chr. 14.1; 22.15; 28.21; 29.5; 2 Chr. 24.12; 34.11; 1 Esdr. 5.53[55]; Ezra 3.7; Sir. 45.10.
39. This word is defined as one who designs something and builds it. Neither this term nor the
cognate verb is used of God in the L X X or elsewhere in the NT. It was often used of the creator
god in philosophical and religious traditions since Plato, and is used commonly in that way by
Philo and early Christian writers. 'Hebrews here no doubt relies on the theological vocabulary of
Hellenistic Judaism' (Attridge, Hebrews, p. 324), a comment that is true in terms of occurrence but
fallacious semantically in slipping in the phrase 'theological vocabulary' (an 'illegitimate total-
ity transfer'). W. L. Lane, Hebrews 9-13 (WBC 47B; Dallas: Word Books, 1991), p. 352, also
connects both TexviTrjs and Snuioupyos to Hellenistic Judaism, noting that they are frequently
joined in Philo. But, in contrast to Attridge, Lane adds: 'That Josephus could use Snuioupyos of
God with none of the philosophical associations of the word found in Plato or Philo shows that
the mere presence of a term is insufficient basis for determining its significance. Williamson has
observed a significant difference in context for 5r|uioupy6s in Philo and in Hebrews. Philo con-
sistently uses 6r)uioupy6s and TexviTrjs of God to refer to the creation of the physical universe.
In v. 10, however, the context established for the use of these terms is distinctively eschatological;
the city is unquestionably the heavenly city of God. The context in which the combination of the
two words occurs in Hebrews suggests that it is no more than a rhetorical flourish, appropriate to
the literary language of the homily...'. Cf. R. Williamson, Philo and the Epistle to the Hebrews
(Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1970), pp. 42-51.
40. See Lane, Hebrews 9-13, p. 352; Isa. 28.16; 54.11 L X X ; 4 Ezra 10.27; Rev. 21.10-14, 19-20.
8. Hebrews 135
not cr eat ed out of, namel y jjril EK 4>OCIVO|JEVCOV.
41
Thi s ma y as s ume a doct r i ne of
cr eat i on ex nihilo but i f so t hi s is a ver y i ndi rect wa y of expr essi ng t he t hought .
4 2
The pr eci s e meani ng of t he phr as e is far from cl ear i n any event .
4 3
The si mpl est
sol ut i on i s pr obabl y t o t ake pr ) | j cm Beou and pr| EK ((XXIVOMEVCOV as get t i ng at
t he s ame t hi ng and t he whol e t hought as al l udi ng t o Genesi s 1 ,
u
As El l i ngwor t h
comment s , ' He b r e ws ' concer n i s . . . wi t h t he uns een ori gi n of t he vi si bl e wor l d,
an or i gi n per cei ved onl y by f ai t h. . . The essent i al t hought is t hat cr eat i on i s by
41. I am taking eis + infinitive as consecutive and ur] with EK <|>ai vousvcov. I am also restrict-
ing T O U S ocicovas to the visible universe (contrast 1.2).
42. For discussion and parallels see Ellingworth, Hebrews, p. 569; Lane, Hebrews 9-13,
p. 332; Attridge, Hebrews, pp. 315f. It seems to me that the doctrine of creation ex nihilo is
consistent with the overall conception of Hebrews, however (e.g., 1.2; 2.10).
43. For example, Lane, Hebrews 9-13, p. 332, follows Williamson, Philo and the Epistle to
the Hebrews, in the view that for Philo and Plato 'the visible universe was made EK <J>OU VOM VC OV,
"out of visible material", in the sense that God molded ^ouvoueva into the visible objects of the
world we see around us'. Hebrews' phrasing accordingly 'excludes any influence from Platonic
or Philonic cosmology. It may, in fact, have been the writer's intention to correct a widespread
tendency in hellenistic Judaism to read Genesis 1 in the light of Plato's doctrine of creation in the
Timaeus\ Adams, 'Cosmology', though differing from Lane, also finds the wording of 11.3 to be
incompatible with Platonic conceptions. Attridge, Hebrews, p. 316, takes the exact opposite view,
arguing that a Platonic cosmogonic model is implicit here. Both views are defensible though both
can be charged with over-reaching. In particular it is far from clear that a specifically Platonic
cosmogonic model is implied in or needed for 11.3, though it plainly works for someone inclined
to see that background behind the book as a whole. Attridge, 'Logic of Hebrews 4.1-11', suggests
that the same idea is behind 4.1-11: 'the goal which the Exodus generation pursued corresponds
to the goal which Christians pursue in the same way, as antitype to type. However, the type in
this analogy (the rest in the land of Canaan) is itself an antitype of a more original type, the state
of rest which God himself entered at the completion of the week of creation'. My critique in Rest
still stands; Attridge's reading of the logic of 4.1-11 is problematic in that the writer of Hebrews'
argument does not make anything of a typology with the earthly land (it is concerned throughout
with the one reality that is or is not entered) nor of a heavenly-earthly contrast (the interest is
with a future entrance); the KCCTCCTrauais is not redefined as a Sabbath-rest but rather the future
Sabbath-celebration occurs in God's resting place. But - considering the book as a whole - if
this writer was inclined to see the tabernacle as a model of the universe and the tabernacle was
modelled after a heavenly pattern (8.5) then the universe itself wouldfind its pattern in what was
shown to Moses (8.5). In other words, I agree in some important respects with Attridge's way of
conceptualizing the thought of the book as a whole. The main differences with Attridge are that
(1) I am not confident that this is the precise thought being expressed in the language of 11.3; (2) I
see this as further in the background of Hebrews 3-4 than Attridge does; (3) in 4.1 -11, in the sense
that this thought is behind the passage, this has as much or more to do with cosmology (resting
place and cosmos) than experience (rest); (4) it is not clear that the Platonic tradition had a patent
on this model. But in agreement with Attridge this broad conception is basic to the thought of
Hebrews.
44. Ellingworth, Hebrews, pp. 568-70, taking EK as causal (BDAG, s.v. 3e); cf. C. R. Koester,
Hebrews (CAB 36; New York: Doubleday, 2001), p. 474.
136 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
God (cf. 3. 4; 4. 3) , wh o is per cei ved onl y by f ai t h' .
4 5
Or Lane: ' The di scer nment
of t he uns een creat i ve act i vi t y of God behi nd t he vi si bl e uni ver se exempl i -
fies t he capaci t y of faith t o demons t r at e t he real i t y of t hat whi ch cannot be
per cei ved t hr ough sense per cept i on, whi ch is cel ebr at ed as t he essence of faith
i n v . lb'.
46
The cr eat ed wor l d has not onl y a begi nni ng but al so an end ( 1. 2, 11- 13; 3. 14;
4. 13; 9. 26- 28; 10. 13, 27; 12. 25- 29; 13. 14); t hi s telos wa s ant i ci pat ed in t he
pat t ern s hown Mos es on t he mount ai n ( 8. 5) . It is t hi s t hat I pur s ue in a separ at e
es s ay.
4 7
Her e we not e mer el y t hat t he wr i t er of Hebr ews shar es wi t h ot her NT
wri t ers t he i dea t hat t he end has al r eady begun ( 1. 2; 6. 4- 5; 9. 26) .
4 8
The creat ed
wor l d al so has a point. It has a dest i ny, whi ch is br ought t o fulfilment in t he Son
( 2. 6- 9) , whos e i nheri t ance it is ( 1. 2) . Hangi ng over al l of t hi s in Hebr ews is t he
promise of God,
4 9
whi ch is al r eady ant i ci pat ed by t he exor di um of t he l et t er
( 1. 1- 4) . Thi s makes al l of hi st or y far mor e t han mer el y physi cal ; it is a hi ghl y
personal affair, for upon its out come rest s t he ver y r eput at i on of t he Creat or.
As for demogr aphi cs , we can account for God, t he Son, t he Hol y Spi ri t ,
angel s, t he Devi l , and humans . Go d is ent hr oned i n heaven; t he l ocat i on of
hi s foot st ool is not i ndi cat ed (cf. Isa. 66. 1; 1 Chr. 28. 2; Ps . 99. 5; 132. 7; Lam.
2. 1) .
5 0
The Son des cended from t he Fat her t o eart h in hi s i ncarnat i on, des cended
( evi dent l y) furt her t o deat h, wa s resurrect ed, and wa s exal t ed t o t he ri ght hand
of God; he wi l l ma ke a s econd appear ance wi t hi n t he spher e of vi si bl e creat i on
( 9. 28) .
5 1
Ther e i s no i ndi cat i on of t he Hol y Spi ri t ' s move me nt or l ocat i on ot her
t han hi s pr es ence wi t h humani t y i n God' s wor k of sal vat i on ( 2. 4; 3. 7; 6. 4; 9. 8,
14; 10. 15, 29) ; t he Spi ri t ' s r ol e i n cos mol ogy wa s ment i oned in a foot not e above.
Angel s popul at e heaven ( 12. 22) , wor s hi p t he Son ( 1. 6) , ar e sent as servant s
of t hose about t o i nheri t sal vat i on ( 1. 14) , and can be encount er ed on eart h in
t he appear ance of huma n st rangers ( 13. 2) . The Devi l i s mer el y associ at ed wi t h
deat h; hi s rol e i n t he l arger dr ama of t he cos mos i s al most ent i rel y assumed,
br eaki ng t hr ough t o t he surface onl y in t he al l usi on t o hi s dest ruct i on t hr ough
45. Ellingworth, Hebrews, pp. 569f.
46. Lane, Hebrews 9-13, p. 330.
47. Laansma, 'Hidden Stories'.
48. C. K. Barrett, 'The Eschatology of the Epistle to the Hebrews', in D. Daube and W. D.
Davies (eds), The Background of the New Testament and its Eschatology (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1956), pp. 363-93; Hurst, Background, pp. 7-42.
49. Cf.4.1;6.12,13,15,17;7.6;8.6;9.15; 10.23,36; 11.9,11,13,17,33,39; 12.26;also4.2,
6; Laansma, Rest, pp. 301-2.
50. Cf. Beale, Temple, p. 134.
51. The Son's movements are indicated at more than one point; see further below. It is worth
noting the way in which G. Guthrie, The Structure of Hebrews: A Text-Linguistic Analysis
(NovTSup 73; Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1994), pp. 121-4, demonstrates that the embedded discourses
of 1.5-14; 2.5-9; 2.10-18; 5.1-7.28; 8.1-2; and 8.3-10.18 follow the path of the Son from heaven
to earth and back to heaven.
8. Hebrews 137
t he deat h of Jesus and t he del i ver ance of t hose t hat t he Devi l hel d ensl aved
by means of t hei r fear of deat h ( 2. 14- 15) .
5 2
Li vi ng humans popul at e t he eart h;
bel i ever s have access t o t he heavenl y t hr one r oom. Ther e is no cl ear i ndi cat i on
of wher e deceas ed per s ons ar e at pr esent ( 12. 23?;
5 3
11. 5?) .
5 4
Ul t i mat el y t hose
wh o ar e faithful wi l l be bodi l y r es ur r ect ed
5 5
and ent er t he pl ace of sal vat i on,
whi ch goes under different depi ct i ons ( see bel ow) . The enemi es of God - i n t hi s
l et t er t hese ar e above all t hose wh o do not cont i nue in faith - wi l l find t hem-
sel ves wi t hout an escape ( 2. 3; 12. 25), ma de a foot st ool of t he Son' s feet ( 1. 13;
2. 8; 10. 13), excl uded from t he pl ace of sal vat i on, ' r emoved' as t hat whi ch can
be s haken ( 12. 27) , i n r agi ng fire ( 10. 27; cf. 6. 8), and in t he hands of t he l i vi ng
God ( 10. 31) wh o is a cons umi ng fire ( 12. 29) .
On eart h t he cent ral l ocat i ons and archi t ect ure are Mt Si nai , t he wi l der ness,
and especi al l y t he t aber nacl e. The cl oser eart hl y real i t i es, Ro me ( as s umi ng t hi s
t o be t he l ocat i on of t he l et t er ' s reci pi ent s) wi t h its per secut i on, Jer usal em wi t h
its Templ e (i f it i s still st andi ng) , Get hs emane, and Gol got ha (cf. onl y 12. 2;
6. 6), ar e pr esent onl y by i mpl i cat i on. Yet Jer usal em i s i n mi nd t hr oughout t he
ar gument . An d J es us ' cruci fi xi on is cent ral , but t hi s i s s wal l owed i n t he i mager y
of t he heavenl y t aber nacl e and cul t us.
Heaven cont ai ns God' s t hr one, wi t h a seat t o its ri ght , l ocat ed i n t he Mos t
Hol y Pl ace of a heavenl y t aber nacl e. Ther e is a curt ai n, after t he pat t er n of t hat
whi ch separ at es t he Hol y Pl ace ( present in heaven onl y by i mpl i cat i on) from
t he Mos t Hol y Pl ace i n t he eart hl y t aber nacl e.
5 6
Ther e is a book i nscr i bed wi t h
t he na me s of t he chur ch of t he firstborn ( 12. 23) .
5 7
The s a me
5 8
l ocat i on, wi t h its
52. The Devil's appearance in 2.14-15 indicates that this much of the drama is relevant to the
needs addressed by Hebrews, and certainly his role fits with both the key function of Genesis 1-3
in Hebrews generally and the apocalyptic cast of the book. The isolated nature of this allusion,
however, suggests that this is not a topic that was currently problematized in this community.
53. According to Ellingworth the tension with 11.40 suggests that in 12.23 'the heavenly
iravTiyupts is anticipated rather than fully realized: worshippers now enjoy communion in
advance with the righteous of earlier generations with whom they will be made perfect at the
end... It is probably misleading to suggest that the righteous are thought of here as having been
made perfect in spirit, but not yet in body: this dichotomy does not appear significant in Hebrews'
(Hebrews, pp. 680f.).
54. Cf. Laansma, Rest, pp. 309f., 283 n. 149; F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, rev. edn
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), p. 110.
55. 2.9, 14-15; 5.7; 6.2; 9.27-28; 11.19, 35; 12.2; 13.20; cf. Wright, Resurrection, pp.
457-61.
56. See D. M. Gurtner, 'The Veil of the Temple in History and Legend', JETS 49/1 (2006),
97-114. In Hebrews the earthly tabernacle as a whole is made obsolete but neither of the veils -
earthly or heavenly - is ever explicitly 'torn' (Mk 15.38 par.) or removed. The question is one of
the privilege of passing beyond i t
57. Exod. 32.32f.; Ps. 69.28; Isa. 4.3; Dan. 12.1; Mai. 3.16; Lk. 10.20; Phil. 4.3; Rev. 3.5;
13.8; 17.8; 20.12,15; 21.27.
58. Lane's comment fits here: 'The designation "city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem"
138 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
envi r ons, i s var i ousl y depi ct ed as t he dest i ny of t he faithful: It is a r est i ng pl ace
(KaTaTrccuais), or wor l d (oiKOU|JEvr|) or a ci t y ( TTOAI S) pl ace (TOTTOS, 11. 8),
fat herl and (TrccTp(s), pl ace of i nher i t ance (KAr| povo| Ji a), Mount Zi on and t he
ci t y of t he l i vi ng God, t he heavenl y Jer usal em ( Zi cov o p o s Kai TTOAIS 0EOU
c ovTos , ' l epouaaAr | | j e r r ou p a v i os ) , or an uns hakabl e ki ngdom (fJccaiAEia
CCOOCAEUTOS). The access of bel i ever s t o t hi s l ocal e i s bot h i mmedi at e ( as di vi ne
t hr one r oom) and i mmi nent (e. g. , as t he KCCTCtTrauais).
The movement s of t he Son- Hi gh Pri est i n rel at i on t o t he cos mos and t he
heavenl y t aber nacl e ha ve been pl ot t ed out by El l i ngwor t h, for wh o m we
cannot afford t he space t hat cri t i cal i nt eract i on woul d r equi r e, but whos e st udy
deser ves not i ce. He comment s t hat ' I t is r e ma r ka bl e . . . h ow oft en t he wr i t er ' s
vi ew of wh o Jesus wa s and what he di d does i nvol ve pr esupposi t i ons about
t he uni ve r s e . . . The aut hor t hi nks synt het i cal l y, not anal yt i cal l y: for hi m, what
Jesus di d, wh o he was , and h ow t he uni ver se i s framed, bel ong t oget her, t hough
t he last i s l east i mpor t ant for h i m' .
5 9
The mos t pr obl emat i c t ext s, he not es , are
t hose t hat combi ne l at ent ( pr esupposed) cos mol ogy and pat ent sot er i ol ogy ( 2. 9;
4. 14; 6.19f.; 7. 26; 8. 1-2; 9. 1- 14; 9. 24; l O. ^ f . ) .
6 0
A sur vey of t he l anguage of
st ruct ure and move me nt i n t hese pas s ages l eads hi m t o t hese s ugges t i ons :
6 1
(1)
' The vert i cal l anguage of 2. 9; 4. 14; and 7. 26 pr obabl y owes mor e t o pr i mi t i ve
Chri st i an t radi t i on, wher eas t he hor i zont al l anguage of t he heavenl y and eart hl y
t aber nacl es . . . is devel oped i n a di st i nct i ve wa y t o expr ess t he aut hor ' s own
t ypol ogy' . (2) At l east i n s ome pl aces (e. g. , 10. 20) t he ' cos mol ogi cal l anguage
is us ed i n an ad hoc and i nci dent al wa y t o expr ess a sot eri ol ogi cal r eal i t y' .
Al mos t cert ai nl y her e we have l anguage bei ng empl oyed met aphor i cal l y t o
dr aw out t he t heol ogi cal si gni fi cance of t he cr oss and exal t at i on. (3) The vert i -
cal and hor i zont al cosmol ogi cal i mages of t he book do not r eadi l y r econci l e,
6 2
but ' t he t wo t ypes of l anguage compl ement one anot her ' . I n expl anat i on he
evokes the thought of the heavenly sanctuary or temple as well. Cody has observed that in the
NT, when the idea of God present and meeting with his people is stressed, there is a strong
tendency to prefer the temple symbolism. When the allusion is to the goal of pilgrimage in its
social significance (the fellowship of the elect and the angels), writers prefer to use the symbol of
the city, as in 22a. . . ' (Hebrews 913, p. 466; citing A. Cody, Heavenly Sanctuary and Liturgy in
the Epistle to the Hebrews [St Meinrad, IN: Grail, 1960], p. 115 n. 65).
59. Ellingworth, 'Universe', p. 340.
60. Eliminating several passages that either treat only one or the other of these, or where
neither is a factor (e.g., 3.7-4.11, as he sees it, is explicitly cosmological and does not do much
with Christology). Some of the passages in Ellingworth's list of eight are particularly difficult and
admit of alternative interpretations.
61. Ellingworth, 'Universe', pp. 348-50.
62. He considers rotating the horizontal through ninety degrees, especially since the horizon-
tal imagery is only implicit. But he notes that the writer is nowhere concerned to reconcile the
horizontal and vertical images and he finds it difficult to equate the curtain (from the horizontal
imagery) with the intermediary angelic sphere (from the vertical imagery). I am not sure the
writer of Hebrews operates with the intermediary sphere, but his first point is significant.
8. Hebrews 139
adds , ' one mi ght say t hat t he hor i zont al , t ypol ogi cal l anguage expr esses nat ur e
or ori gi n, wher eas t he vert i cal l anguage expr esses l ocat i on, and i s t hus mor e
t rul y cos mol ogi cal ' .
6 3
General Observations Based on this Survey
Four br oa d obs er vat i ons i n r es pons e t o t hi s s ur vey of cos mi c l anguage i n
Hebr ews :
( 1) I f it is obvi ous t hat s ome of t hi s i s sel f - consci ousl y figurative i n t he wr i t er
of He b r e ws ' mi nd - t hat i s, a wa y of depi ct i ng s omet hi ng so as t o dr aw out its
t heol ogi cal si gni fi cance - it i s al so cl ear t hat t hese feat ures ( wher ever t hey ma y
b e i n t he l et t er) bl end wi t hout di st i nct i on i nt o a wor l d t hat t he wr i t er of Hebr ews
t akes qui t e seri ousl y as reality. He cert ai nl y bel i eves i n bodi l y resurrect i on.
Ther e is good r eason t o t hi nk t hat he bel i eves t hat angel s exi st and t hat t hey
have and can still appear i n huma n f orm; hi s ar gument s i n chs. 1-2 and at 13. 2
fall flat if he does n' t . Ther e is n o r eas on t o doubt t hat he bel i eves t hat heaven
is up, t hough it is grat ui t ous si mpl y t o as s ume t hat he does bel i eve i t .
6 4
Ther e is
good r eas on t o doubt t hat he pi ct ur es God as seat ed on a t hr one, Jesus car r yi ng
a bowl of bl ood t hr ough a heavenl y t empl e, or l i vi ng bel i ever s as myst i cal l y
vent ur i ng up (i n t he nat ur e of a Mer kabah as cent
6 5
) i nt o t he heavenl y t hr one
r oom. Whe r e t o dr aw t he l i nes is t he pr obl em, and r uns t he risk of fost eri ng
mor e mi s under s t andi ng t han under st andi ng. Thi s goes not l east for 12. 25- 29,
whi ch ma n y i nt erpret ers have been qui ck t o t ake as ' l i t er al ' descri pt i on. I n my
j udgement , Wi l l i am Lane has shed t he mos t l i ght on t hat pas s age, and I devel -
oped my own concl usi ons on it el s ewher e.
6 6
6 3
I. e. , 'In horizontal, typological language, the nature of Christ's work is heavenly, while that of
the levitical cultus was of the earth. In vertical, cosmological language Jesus lived and died on
earth, and now reigns in heaven at the right hand of God'.
64. The canvas of imagery as a whole assumes it, of course, though I cannot see that any-
thing in his argument depends on whether he thought that language to be descriptively accurate
(and recall the insights of Walton, noted above). But saying this does not mean that we know
whether and how the writer of Hebrews would have been theologically shaken by the argu-
ment that heaven is not straight up. As has already been stated, the hermeneutical problems are
difficult at this point. Some answers may come through reexamination of the Scriptural texts
in their contexts, allowing for the conclusion that apparent contradictions between the Bible
and science are really just apparent. But other answers will probably require the admission
that Scriptures meaning cannot be reduced to the human author's theological understanding.
Perhaps Moses and the writer of Hebrews would have been theologically shaken by a modem
course in physics. So much the worse for the human authors, who, it may appear, wrote better
than they knew. There is also wisdom and considerable perspective in the words of J. Pelikan,
Whose Bible Is It? A Short History of the Scriptures (New York: Penguin Books, 2005), pp.
232-3.
65. Cf. Hurst, Background, pp. 82-5.
66. Lane, Hebrews 9-13, pp. 464-91; Laansma, 'Hidden Stories'.
140 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
(2) The cos mos is mor e t han j ust set t i ng for t he wri t er of Hebr ews . The t heme
surfaces t oo i nsi st ent l y t o t reat it as mer el y stylistic embel l i shment (e. g. , at 3. 4).
It is her e t o hi ghl i ght t he jurisdiction of God and t he Son, whi ch is compr ehen-
si ve chronol ogi cal l y, geogr aphi cal l y and ant hr opol ogi cal l y ( 4. 12- 13; 9. 26- 28;
12. 25-29). The i mpl i cat i ons ar e good or bad, dependi ng on fai t hful ness. It i s
her e t o assert t he finality, scope, and nature of God' s sal vat i on i n t he Son. It is
her e t o mani f est t he superiority of t he Son, and i ndeed hi s separ at i on from t he
ot her sons/ chi l dr en and hi s posi t i on on t he di vi ne si de of t he di vi ne- angel i c/
cos mos di vi de.
6 7
Fi nal l y, He br e ws ' cos mol ogy i s her e t o poi nt u p t he glory of
God, and in t he best of t he bi bl i cal t radi t i on t o r equi r e exclusive r el i ance on God
and hi s wor d. It is t he gr eat quest i on: Wi l l we cl i ng t o t he Rock of sal vat i on or
t o t he r ocks of cr eat i on? He wi l l shar e hi s gl ory wi t h no one and not hi ng and t o
instil t he poi nt he decl ares t hat he wi l l shake out and change hi s ver y cr eat i on
( 1. 10- 12; 12. 25- 29) . But for my par t it is finally unsat i sf yi ng t o say t hat all
t hi s is devel oped mer el y t o set up a gr eat snuffing out of t he vi si bl e uni ver se at
12. 25-29. Pur e and si mpl e anni hi l at i on is an odd wa y t o t reat one' s i nheri t ance.
Of cour se God' s ways are not our ways , but such an end i s not i n any event t he
wri t er of He br e ws ' expect at i on. As el sewher e an end ( deat h) is t he occasi on
for r ecl amat i on ( resurrect i on) , whi ch r edounds all t he mor e t o t he gl or y of God
( 13. 20- 21) .
6 8
(3) The l at t er poi nt does br i ng us back t o t he per enni al quest i on of t he con-
cept ual backgr ound of Hebr ews , br oadl y consi st i ng of t he t ug of wa r bet ween
t hose advocat i ng for a mor e Pl at oni c and t hose advocat i ng for a mor e apocal yp-
tic mat r i x. But t hat debat e t ends t o have mor e t o do wi t h what t he aut hor says
about t aber nacl e and cul t us t han about t he cos mos i t sel f.
6 9
The except i on t o
67. Cf. L. W. Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), especially pp.
497-504.
68. The very idea of bodily resurrection - which is certainly present in Hebrews - seems on
theological grounds to entail the inclusion of the entire cosmos, which is where Paul takes the
idea (Rom. 8.20-21; cf. Wright, Resurrection, p. 813). The writer of Hebrews may take a different
view but I doubt it, for exegetical and scientific reasons already given. If the annihilationist view
can claim the advantage of a prima facie reading of 12.25-29 then a resurrection model can claim
the advantage of the broader tradition (represented by Romans 8) in which this writer plainly
stood. In any event, our argument does not hang entirely on a deduction from resurrection.
69. The writer of Hebrews' spatial and metaphysical dualism divides terminologically along
these lines: On the one hand, there is the 'true tent' (8.2; 9.24), 'pattern' (8.1-5), 'greater and more
perfect tent, not made with hands' (9.11,24), 'heavenly things themselves' (9.23), 'heaven itself
(9.24), 'the image itself of the [coming] things' (10.1). On the other hand, there is the 'copy',
shadow' (8.1-5; 9.23), 'made with hands' (9.11, 24), 'antitype of the true' (9.24), 'regulations
of flesh' (9.10), 'shadow of the good things coming' (10.1). To this can be added the language of
creation surveyed above, especially related to the heavenly world. What is immediately apparent
is that the language of 'copy', 'shadow', 'made with hands', and 'antitype' all attaches specifi-
cally to the earthly tabernacle with its law, that is, to something within the cosmos more than to
the cosmos as such. In other words, the heavenly world tends to be merged in these comparisons,
8. Hebrews 141
t hat st at ement is 12. 25- 29, and possi bl y 3. 7- 4. 11 and 11. 3.
7 0
Of t hese, 12. 25- 29
r equi r es t he mos t at t ent i on and we have deal t wi t h t hi s el sewher e; her e t he i dea
t hat t he t aber nacl e r epr esent s t he fut ure of t he cos mos comes t o i t s head.
In brief, we can rei nf orce t he concl usi ons of ot her s, especi al l y Wi l l i ams on
and Hur s t ,
7 1
t o t he effect t hat t he Let t er ' s cos mol ogy evi dences no real shar i ng
i n t he Pl at oni c t hought wor l d represent ed, e.g., by Phi l o of Al exandr i a. Beyond
what wa s ment i oned above, t he obser vat i on can be added t hat none of t he
vari ous el ement s of t he wri t er of Hebr ews ' cos mol ogy are br ought forth for pur -
pos es of al l egori cal meani ngs , cert ai nl y not rel at i ng t o phi l osophi cal cur r ent s i n
t he Pl at oni c t radi t i on. The wr i t er of He br e ws ' sot eri ol ogi cal and chri st ol ogi cal
concept i ons ar e subt l e and creat i ve but t he l et t er ' s cosmol ogi cal feat ures are
r at her unador ned.
7 2
(4) I ndeed, t he above descri pt i on encour ages t he i mpr essi on t hat t he wr i t er
is wor ki ng wi t h a cos mol ogy t hat woul d have been consi der ed t radi t i onal by
Chr i st i ans st eeped i n t he OT. It woul d be consi st ent wi t h t he i dea t hat t hi s wr i t er
der i ves hi s cos mol ogy mor e from hi s Scri pt ures as filtered t hr ough ( by now)
t radi t i onal chr i st ol ogy t han from ei t her empi r i cal obser vat i on or phi l osophi cal
specul at i ons, however acquai nt ed he ma y be wi t h t hi nki ng such as we find i n
Phi l o and t o what ever degr ee it affects t he f orm of hi s expr essi on.
Closing Reflections
Taken t oget her t he f oregoi ng pr ovi des per spect i ve on t he r el at i onshi p bet ween
l anguage and concr et e referent for t he wr i t er of Hebr ews . The number of ways
meaning that when the author is speaking in this way of the heavenly world as present or future he
telescopes in and out from the tabernacle and city to the realm of heaven in general. On the earthly
side of things, however, he keeps narrowly to the tabernacle and its law. The possible exception is
the 'city' and 'fatherland' imagery of ch. 11(11.10-16; cf. 13.14) but (1) by this time in the book's
argument the idea is plainly that of sacred space (cf. 12.18-29; in other words, these are specific
parts of creation that had symbolic import, especially as spheres in relation to the Most Holy
Place, rather than creation as such; we can observe that in the OT the land, like the tabernacle and
temple, was portrayed as a symbolic return to Paradise, i.e., to the original creation); (2) the latter
passages are decidedly oriented along temporal, futuristic lines; and (3) nothing in these passages
on their own requires anything beyond the conception of, say, 1 Pet 1.1,17; 2.11; Phil. 3.19-21;
Gal. 4.25-26; Col. 3.1-4; Rev. 21.1-2. There is accordingly no direct line from the language of
'copy', etc. to the writer's general view of the cosmos. He does not picture creation as such as a
copy or shadow or antitype. The assumed indirect line between this language and his view of the
cosmos would be closer to this: The heavenly world as a whole was a pattern for the tabernacle/
law, which was itself the shadow of the state of the world as a whole to come, a world identified
with the pre-existing pattern shown to Moses on the mountain.
70. Perhaps also 9.11; 11.10, 13-16. 11.3 was dealt with above; see the preceding note on
11.10-16.
71. Williamson, Philo and the Epistle to the Hebrews, passim; Hurst, Background, passim.
72. This aspect of this subject - the contrasts with the Platonic tradition - are more thoroughly
examined by Adams, 'Cosmology'.
142 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
in whi ch t he pl ace of sal vat i on can be pi ct ur ed - t abernacl e, ci t y ( = Mount Zi on,
heavenl y Jer usal em) , r est i ng pl ace, fat herl and, wor l d, et c. - al r eady expr essed
mor e i nt erest i n get t i ng at si gni f i cance and under s t andi ng t han i n descr i bi ng
real i st i cal l y and l i t eral i st i cal l y a concr et e real i t y, as i f t her e i s act ual l y a heav-
enl y and fut ure t abernacl e st ruct ure, a ci t y wi t h bui l di ngs, and so on. I n par t i cu-
lar, t he el ast i ci t y of t he cul t i c and t aber nacl e i mager y poi nt s i n t he di r ect i on of
met aphor i cal us age. Especi al l y i n chs 5- 10 t he wr i t er ver y creat i vel y expl oi t s
t he t aber nacl e cul t us and l i t urgy t o art i cul at e chr i st ol ogy and sot er i ol ogy in
power f ul l y practical wa ys . It i s evi dent t hat he is finding yet anot her wa y of
expr essi ng t he ' al r eady- not yet ' per spect i ve t hat is f ound el sewher e in t he NT;
t he at t empt is t o art i cul at e t he basi s and nat ur e of t he ' ent r ance' t hat t he bel i ever
al ready has whi l e awai t i ng t he ent r ance t o come.
I n connect i on wi t h t he poi nt ma de earl i er about sacr ed s pace we can go
anot her st ep. I f we ar e r i ght t hat Gol got ha i s concei ved after t he ma nne r of
t he Mos t Hol y Pl ace as t he i nt er sect i on of t he ear t hl y s anct uar y and di vi ne
t hr one r oom, and i f t he wr i t er of Hebr ews is not i magi ni ng a f or m of myst i cal
ascent for bel i ever s, t hen t he l anguage of heavenly ent r ance (eiaEpxopcct) and
appr oach (Trpoaspxopcci) is al ways or i ent ed pr eci sel y t hr ough Gol got ha' s ver y
earthly cross and so, for t he present , i s al ways concept ual i zed as t he wa y of suf-
feri ng, of cr oss bear i ng. Thi s is consi st ent not onl y wi t h t he dynami cs of sacr ed
space, but wi t h t he l anguage and t he j uxt apos i ng of i deas t hr oughout t he l et t er
(e. g. , 2. 10- 11; 6. 9- 20; 10. 19- 36; 12. 1- 29; 13. 12- 16) . The t hemes of ' sufferi ng/
s ha me ' and ' appr oach t o t he di vi ne t hr one' are not mer el y r el at ed as ' need and
pr ovi s i on' but as t wo aspect s of t he one movement of wor s hi p.
Thus we appr oach t he di vi ne t hr one i n heaven pr eci sel y and only whe n we
go out (e^epxoi i cci ) t o Jesus and hi s faithful ones out si de t he camp, t o t he n e w
and ul t i mat e cent r e of sacr ed space, sufferi ng out si de t he gat e wher e Gol got ha i s
found, bear i ng hi s s hame (TOV ovs t Si apbv CCUTOU (|>epovTes). That i s wher e t he
heavenl y di vi ne t hr one i s t o be f ound on eart h; t here i s no ot her por t al . Hence-
forth bel i ever s wi l l nei t her seek nor cl i ng t o any pl ace or me a ns of securi t y
and sanct i fi cat i on beyond Gol got ha wi t hi n ' t hi s cr eat i on' for her e t hey have no
abi di ng ci t y - not even Jer usal em, far l ess Rome . Rat her, t hey ar e communal l y
seeki ng t hat ci t y t hat i s comi ng ( 13. 12- 14) , t he cl eansed c os mos i n its ent i ret y
as t he t empl e of God. The posi t i ve cast of 13. 15-16 s houl d not caus e us t o mi s s
t he cr uci f or m nat ur e of t he life it cal l s forth as an encapsul at i on of t he whol e
st ri ng of exhor t at i ons t o faithful act i on - f ocused par t i cul ar l y i n t he doi ng of
good wi t hi n t he Chr i st i an f el l owshi p - t hat r uns t hr ough t he Let t er.
To say, t hen, t hat t hi s cos mol ogi cal and heavenl y t aber nacl e l anguage has
no concr et e referent is t o mo c k exper i ence and hope. Nor ar e we cl ai mi ng t hat
t he pr ecedi ng par agr aphs b y any means exhaust what t he wr i t er of Hebr ews
ma y have under s t ood t o be t he concr et e real i t y t o whi ch t hi s l anguage refers.
But nei t her is it t o say t hat he woul d have (or coul d have) sur r ender ed any of
hi s i mages for a mor e ' l i t er al i st i c' at t empt at descr i pt i on or for any ot her set of
8. Hebrews 143
i mages . Thes e ar e i mages he woul d - I t hi nk - have i nsi st ed on as necessar y
and i ndi spensabl e by di nt of t hei r bei ng revealed (cf. 8. 5; 9. 23- 24) . They finally
bel ong t o a coher ent wor l d dr awn from t he OT as medi at ed t hr ough Chr i st i an
t radi t i on; t hey f orm an or gani c whol e, a ki nd of sel f-sust ai ni ng ecos ys t em t hat
does not admi t of t amper i ng. Ther e ma y be no heavenl y t abernacl e - as we know
t aber nacl es - but i f we ment al l y r aze t he i mage t he real i t y itself di sappears from
vi ew. The i mage does not hol d t he t hi ng i n exi st ence but it makes it knowabl e
i n t he onl y wa y it can be and ( mor e i mport ant l y, gi ven t he wr i t er ' s past or al con-
cerns) must be known. Or t o revi si t and r edepl oy t he i mager y of convent i onal
and i nfrared phot ogr aphy wi t h whi ch t hi s essay began, we ma y say t hat even
i f anot her t ype of ' phot o' of t hese heavenl y and eschat ol ogi cal real i t i es wer e
pos s i bl e t han t he one i nvol vi ng t he cul t i c s ymbol i s m of t hi s Let t er, t he wr i t er of
Hebr ews woul d i nsi st on this i mage as t he mos t r el evant and meani ngf ul for t he
quest i ons t hat mat t er.
And, i n any event , Beal e i s cor r ect t o st ress t hat for t he wr i t er of He br e ws -
as for ot her earl y Chr i st i ans - what wa s consi der ed ' f i gur at i ve' and what wa s
consi der ed ' r eal ' wa s t he r ever se of what we ma y be accus t omed t o t hi nki ng.
7 3
I n t he end t he ' r eal ' t aber nacl e has not hi ng t o do wi t h a l ocat abl e bui l di ng; it
wa s t he Mos ai c t aber nacl e t hat wa s figurative. So for t he wr i t er of Hebr ews it
i s not a mat t er of t r yi ng t o us e a ' r eal ' t aber nacl e figuratively t o t al k about a
' spi r i t ual ' one, but of under s t andi ng pr oper l y what wa s al ways a figure t o get
at t he real i t y t o whi ch it al ways poi nt ed, t he heavenl y et er nal and cosmi cal l y
fut ure KCCT6:TTO:UOIS. Whet her t hi s is ' demyt hol ogi zi ng' depends t hen on how
we defi ne myt h and what i n t he wor l d i s t o be i ncl uded i n i t .
7 4
73. Beale, Temple, pp. 295-8.
74. Among other works that help in thinking through this sort of use of figurative language
and the relationship between metaphor and referent, see J. M. Soskice, Metaphor and Religious
Language (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985); H. Weder, 'Metaphor and Reality', in J. Polking-
horne and M. Welker (eds), The End of the World and the Ends of God (Harrisburg: Trinity
Press International, 2000), pp. 291-7; R. Bauckham and T. Hart, Hope Against Hope: Christian
Eschatology at the Turn of the Millennium (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999).
9
G O D A N D ' THE W O R L D ' : C O S MO L O G Y A N D
T H E O L O G Y I N THE L E T T E R OF J A ME S
Da r i a n Lo c k e t t
J ames decl ares, ' whoever wi shes t o be a friend of t he wor l d becomes an enemy
of God' (4. 4b) and t hus dr aws a l i ne in t he sand (or in t he cosmos) separat i ng t he
ant i t het i cal wor l dvi ews associ at ed wi t h ' t he wor l d' and God. Though accor di ng
t o 4. 4 it s eems cl ear t hat J a me s ' under st andi ng of t he cos mos ri des upon t hi s
God/ ' wor l d' di vi de, it has often been ar gued t hat J ames l acks any such coher-
ent st ruct ure and t heol ogy. Muc h of t hi s di scussi on has been domi nat ed by t he
influential assumpt i ons of Mar t i n Di bel i us. He concl uded t hat becaus e t he t ext
was ma de up l argel y of sayi ngs mat er i al , 'the entire document lacks continuity
in thought'
1
and t hus 'has not "theology" '?
If James lacks coherent structure, and t hus any clear theology, why i ncl ude t he
Let t er in a text consi deri ng t he interplay bet ween cosmol ogy and t heol ogy? Though
an answer t o such a quest i on seemed certain for Di bel i us, t he last t wo decades
have seen qui t e a shift, begi nni ng wi t h Pet er Davi ds ' comment that ' t he age of t he
string-of-pearls concept i on of t he letter is passed, and its essential t heol ogi cal uni t y
is ready for expl orat i on' .
3
Mat t Jackson- McCabe ni cel y i ndi cat es this in hi s recent
article: ' Wi t h t he general shift, si nce t he 1960' s, t oward readi ng strategies that
emphasi ze coherence and connect i ons in t ext s . . . has come a st eady erosi on in t he
hegemony of Di bel i us' s at omi st i c, form-critical approach t o J ames ' .
4
Furt hermore
Luke Ti mot hy Johnson not es that James, as wi s dom literature, t hough ' general
in i nt ent i on. . . is part i cul ar in expressi on. Even mi ni mal arrangement of mat eri -
als represent s an interpretation and poi nt of vi ew' . He cont i nues by insisting that
t hough ' aphori sms may be wor n t o cl i ches . . . t hey do cl ai m t o make st at ement s
about reality - not onl y t o say somet hi ng well but t o say something'.
5
1. M. Dibelius, James: A Commentary on the Epistle of James (rev. H. Greeven; trans. M. A.
Williams; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 11th edn, 1976), p. 2 (emphasis original).
2. Dibelius, James, p. 21 (emphasis original).
3. P. H. Davids, The Epistle of James: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 1982), p. 13.
4. M. Jackson-McCabe, 'The Messiah Jesus in the Mythic World of James', JBL 122 (2003),
701-30 (703).
5. L. T. Johnson, Brother of Jesus, Friend of God: Studies in the Letter of James (Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), pp. 204-5, n. 14 (emphasis mine).
9. James 145
J ohns on has not ed how t he wi s dom sayi ngs of J ames have been ar r anged.
He assert s t hat t he ' i mpor t ant or gani zi ng ( and sel ect i ng) pri nci pl e i n J ames is a
cent ral set of convi ct i ons concer ni ng t he absol ut e i ncompat i bi l i t y of t wo con-
st rual s of real i t y and t wo modes of behavi or f ol l owi ng from such di ver se under -
st andi ngs. Thi s " deep st r uct ur e" of pol ar oppos i t i on. . . under gi r ds t he i ncl usi on
and shapi ng of J a me s ' mat er i al ' .
6
He ar gues, ' [ e] ven a cur sor y sur vey of t hi s
composi t i on s hows t hat J ames charact eri st i cal l y est abl i shes pol ar cont r ast s' .
J ohns on concl udes t hat t he cent ral cont rast bet ween ' f ri endshi p wi t h Go d ' and
' f ri endshi p wi t h t he wor l d' i n 4. 4 offers t he best ' t hemat i c cent re for [ J ames ' ]
et hi cal and rel i gi ous dual i s m' .
7
Her e we wi l l expl or e, i n J ohns on' s wor ds , t he ' s omet hi ng' J ames says,
speci fi cal l y wi t h r espect t o h ow J a me s ' st at ement s r egar di ng t he cos mos ma y
be seen t oget her as a whol e and whet her t hi s cosmol ogi cal framework ma y
i ndi cat e a wel l -craft ed t heol ogi cal poi nt of vi ew. It is i n t he fitting confi nes
of ' t ext ' t hat such an encodi ng of wor l d vi ew t akes pl ace, for i n Judi t h Li eu' s
wor ds : ' Text s pl ay a cent ral part not j us t i n document at i on of what it meant t o
be a Chri st i an, but i n act ual l y shapi ng Chr i st i ani t y' .
8
Accor di ng t o Li eu, Chr i s-
t i an real i t y ( t heol ogi cal real i t y) was t ext ual l y const ruct ed. Thus , i n descr i bi ng
t he cos mos , J ames cal l s fort h a ne w i dent i t y for hi s r eader s and art i cul at es a
t heol ogi cal const rual of reality. The pr esent chapt er wi l l out l i ne t he var i ous
i ndi cat i ons of cos mol ogy i n J ames and wi l l at t empt t o under st and t hem wi t hi n
a coher ent , t ext ual l y const r uct ed vi ew of t he uni ver se. Fr om t hese obser vat i ons
we wi l l reflect upon h ow J a me s ' cos mol ogy r ender s a t heol ogi cal ma p whi ch
pl ot s bot h huma n and di vi ne act i on - char t i ng a new, t heol ogi cal i dent i t y for hi s
readers. Our pr esent j our ney t hr ough t hi s J acobean ma p of t he cos mos begi ns
wi t h t he ' ear t hl y' , namel y a di scussi on of ' t he wor l d' in J ames , t hen pr oceeds
upwar d t o heaven, especi al l y consi der i ng t he phr as e ' f r om a bove ' , and finally
descends downwar d t o ' Gehenna' .
1. 'The World* in James
To vi ew J a me s ' ma p of t he cos mos we mus t first vi ew t he ' wor l d' as he does.
J ames uses t he t er m ' wor l d' ( Koopos) 5 t i mes ( 1. 27; 2. 5; 3. 6; 4. 4 [ 2*] ) and
' ear t hl y' (E T T iy os) once ( 3. 14) .
In its first occur r ence, t he t er m ' wor l d' is set i n cont rast t o God' s st andar d
of meas ur e ( 1. 27) . For J ames , ' pur e and undef i l ed' rel i gi on is qual i fi ed as such
6. L. T. Johnson, The Letter of James (AB 37A; New York: Doubleday, 1995), p. 14. See
also, T. B. Cargal, Restoring the Diaspora: Discursive Structure and Purpose in the Epistle
of James (SBLDS 144; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1993), pp. 229-32; and K. D. Tollefson, 'The
Epistle of James as Dialectical Discourse', BTB 21 (1997), 62-9 (62).
7. Johnson, The Letter of James, p. 84.
8. Judith Lieu, Christian Identity in the Jewish and Graeco-Roman World (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2004), p. 7.
1 4 6 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
' bef or e God, t he Fat her ' (TTapa TCO 0ECO Km TTaTpi). The TTapa her e can be
t aken suggest i ng spher e: ' i n t he si ght / j udgement of Go d ' ( see Rom. 2 . 1 3 ; 1 Cor.
3 . 1 9 ; 7 . 2 4 ; 1 Pet . 2 . 2 0 ) whi c h i ndi cat es t he ul t i mat e s t andar d by whi c h al l
aspect s of wor s hi p, t hought , and conduct shoul d be assessed and wi l l i n t he end
be j udged. It is ' wi t h ref erence t o God' s scal e of me a s ur e me nt '
9
t hat such rel i -
gi on is ' pur e and undef i l ed' . An d t hi s rel i gi on, accept abl e in God' s est i mat i on,
is set over agai nst wor t hl ess rel i gi on i n 1 . 2 6 . Her e J ames i nsi st s t hat it is God' s
per spect i ve t hat funct i ons as t he key i ndi cat or separ at i ng wor t hl ess rel i gi on
from ' pur e and undefi l ed r el i gi on' . Fur t her mor e, t he pr eposi t i onal phr as e TTapa
TCO 0ECO al ong wi t h t he si mi l ar phr as e in v. 2 7 (CCITO TOU Koopou), ' cl ear l y
suggest an opposi t i on bet ween God and t he wor l d' .
1 0
Thi s rhet ori c i ndi cat es
t hat t he aut hor does not wi s h t o cast t wo t ypes of r el i gi on as equal but opposi t e;
rat her, he refers t o God as t he onl y one wh o appr oves pur e rel i gi on, demonst r at -
i ng t hat t her e i s onl y one wa y t o const r ue or der ed wor s hi p and pi et y.
The defi ni t i on of accept abl e rel i gi on i n t he si ght of God is first char act er i zed
as l ooki ng after or phans and wi dows i n t hei r affliction and t hen as keepi ng
ones el f ' uns t ai ned' (OCOTTIAOV) from ' t he wor l d' (TOU Koopou) ( 1 . 2 7 ) . To r emai n
' uns t ai ned' wi t h r espect t o ' t he wor l d' J a me s ' r eader s mus t mai nt ai n a part i cul ar
boundar y bet ween t hemsel ves and t he i nfl uences of ' t he wor l d' . El s ewher e in
t he NT t he t er m ' uns t ai ned' is pai r ed wi t h t he t er m ' unbl emi s hed' ( a p c o p o s )
1 1
whi ch t oget her convey t he not i on of defi l ement . Her e J a me s ' r eader s mus t keep
t hemsel ves from ' t he wor l d' becaus e it is t he agent of pol l ut i on whi ch, by means
of cont act , t r ansmi t s a count er f orm of ' r el i gi on' cont ami nat i ng J a me s ' r eader s.
Becaus e of t hei r ' fai l ure t o l i ve in accor d wi t h t hi s compl et e l aw and t hei r com-
pr omi s e wi t h t he al i en val ues and nor ms of soci et y' , as r emedy, J ames ' ur ges
hi s r eader s t o sever t hei r t i es wi t h secul ar pol l ut i on. . . t o puri fy t hei r hands and
heart s by br eaki ng cl ean from soci et y' s pol l ut i on' .
1 2
' Wor l d' appear s agai n i n ch. 2 . I n chal l engi ng hi s r eader s wi t h t he i ncongr u-
i t y of bel i evi ng i n Jesus Chr i st and pr act i si ng f avouri t i sm, J ames rhet ori cal l y
asks i n 2 . 5 , ' Ha s God not chos en t he poor i n t he wor l d (TCO Koopco) t o be
9. Johnson, The Letter of James, p. 212.
10. Wesley Wachob, The Voice of Jesus in the Social Rhetoric of James (SNTSMS 106; Cam-
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), p. 83.
11. See 1 Pet. 1.19, with reference to Christ as an 'unblemished' lamb; 2 Pet. 3.14. In Jude 24,
several manuscripts read doTriXous either beside ducouous
G
r earlier in the verse (cf. Sp
72
, C, 945,
1243, 1505) and thus may add weight to understanding the two terms as commonly being used
together.
12. J. H. Elliott, 'The Epistle of James in Rhetorical and Social Scientific Perspective:
Holiness-Wholeness and Patterns of Replication', BTB 23 (1993), 71-8 (78). Elliott's notion
of 'breaking clean from society's pollution' specifically entails drawing boundaries of sectarian
separation. I have argued elsewhere that 'keeping oneself unstained from the world' need not
imply the construction of sectarian boundaries (see D. Lockett, Purity and Worldview in the
Epistle of James [LNTS; London: T&T Clark, forthcoming], ch. 5).
9 . James 147
rich i n f ai t h?' Though a f ew manuscr i pt s r ead TOU Koapou, t he dat i ve i s wel l
at t est ed and ma ke s bet t er sense he r e .
1 3
The phr as e TCO Koopco s houl d be
r ead as a dat i ve of advant age
1 4
and t hus ' poor i n t he eyes of t he wor l d' . The
synt act i cal const ruct i on i ndi cat es t hat it is from t he per spect i ve or val uat i on of
' t he wor l d' t hat t hese peopl e are count ed poor or l ow i n soci al and economi c
st at us. Not e t he si mi l ar us e of a dat i ve of advant age wi t h r egar d t o t he ' poor '
i n Mt . 5. 3: MccKCcpioi oi TTTCOXCM TCO T T V E u pc rn . The us e of t he dat i ve, bot h
in Jas. 2. 5 and Mt . 5. 3, i ndi cat es t hat t he poor ma y be vi ewed from different
vant age poi nt s and, speci fi cal l y i n J ames becaus e it is from t he wor l d' s vant age
poi nt , t hi s i s t he wr ong vi ew or meas ur e of t he poor. J ohns on has obs er ved t hat
becaus e t he poor wi t h r espect t o 6 Koopos are t o be ' r i ch i n fai t h' i mpl i es t hat
' t he " wor l d' s " meas ur ement of val ue i s di rect l y oppos ed t o Go d ' s ' .
1 5
Rat her
t han humani t y i n gener al , ' t he wor l d' her e i s t he s ys t em of or der cont r ar y t o t he
heavenl y order, ' a meas ur e di st i ngui shabl e from Go d ' s ' .
1 6
In 3.6 J ames identifies t he t ongue as a ' wor l d of wi ckednes s ' ( b Koopos TTJS
aSi Ki as ) , or t aken adjectivally, ' a wi cked wor l d' whi ch ' st ai ns (oTnAouocc) t he
whol e body' . A preci se t ransl at i on of t he first phr ase of v. 6 is ext r emel y difficult.
The phr ase consi st s of five nouns in t he nomi nat i ve case al ong wi t h one ver b,
and t he pr obl em is how best t o combi ne t hese wor ds in a way t hat makes bot h
gr ammat i cal and l ogi cal sense. In Johnson' s est i mat i on ' [t ]he pr obl ems r evol ve
mai nl y ar ound how t o under st and t he phrase ho kosmos tes adikias, especi al l y
si nce it has a definite article, and how t o underst and it synt act i cal l y in rel at i on t o
t he subst ant i ve "t he t ongue" \
1 7
Some have argued t hat b Koopos means ' whol e'
or ' s um t ot al ' as in LXX Prov. 17. 6.
1 8
Ot hers have suggest ed t he t ransl at i on ' ador n-
ment ' (1 Pet. 3. 3) and t hus underst and t he t ongue as t he ' ador nment ' of evi l .
13. Davids understands the genitive as a scribal attempt to smooth out the grammar {James,
p. 112).
14. As in D. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996),
p. 144, or a dativus commodi. Examples of commentators who understand the dative in this
way include Johnson, Brother of Jesus, Friend of God, p. 212; Dibelius, James, p. 138; Davids,
James, pp. 111-2; R. P. Martin, James (WBC 48; Waco: Word, 1988), pp. 64-5; D. Moo, The
Letter of James (PNTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), p. 107; pace S. Laws, A Commentary
on the Epistle of James (BNTC; London: A&C Black, 1980), p. 103, who takes it as a dative of
respect.
15. Johnson, Letter of James, p. 224.
16. Johnson, Brother ofJesus, Friend of God, p. 212. Laws {James, p. 174) rightly argues that
'world' in James denotes 'in general the values of human society as against those of God, and
hence the man who pursues pleasure aligns himself with the world and compromises or actually
denies his relationship with God' (see L. L. Cheung, The Genre, Composition and Hermeneutics
of James [Carlisle: Paternoster Press, 2003], pp. 202-3).
17. Johnson, Letter of James, p. 259.
18. Both Cheung (Hermeneutics of James, p. 203) and Moo (Letter of James, p. 157) feel this
may be due to the influence of the Vulgate (universitas iniquitatis), a translation reflected in the
NLT. Both scholars reject this meaning.
148 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
But Di bel i us correct l y obj ect s, ' No reader woul d have hear d ei t her of t hose t wo
meani ngs i n t hi s expr es s i on' .
1 9
' Wor l d' conveys nei t her of t hese senses in ot her
occurrences in J ames , t hus Mayor seems t o have had t he best feel for t he phr ase
sayi ng: ' I n our mi cr ocosm, t he t ongue represent s or const i t ut es t he unri ght eous
wor l d' .
2 0
Wi t h Mayor most t ake xfjs ccSiKias as an at t ri but i ve geni t i ve and t hus
render t he phrase, ' unr i ght eous wor l d' as t he RSV.
Under st andi ng t he phr ase b KOCHJOS T % a S i i a a s as ' t he unri ght eous wor l d' ,
we mus t pl ace it wi t hi n t he sent ence as a whol e. Mo o obser ves t hat t her e ar e
t hr ee possi bl e opt i ons .
2 1
The first opt i on is as fol l ows. ' The t ongue i s a fire,
t he wor l d of unr i ght eousness. The t ongue is appoi nt ed a mong our member s
as t hat whi c h st ai ns t he whol e b o d y . . . ' Thi s r ender i ng ( a) t akes ' wor l d of
unr i ght eous nes s ' i n apposi t i on t o ' f i r e' ; (b) pl aces a full st op after t hi s phr as e;
and ( c) t akes t he phr as e ' whi ch st ai ns t he whol e body' as t he pr edi cat e of ' i s
appoi nt ed' (KaBiaTocTcci). Though t he apposi t i onal r el at i onshi p bet ween ' fi re'
and ' wor l d of unr i ght eous nes s ' cannot be r ul ed out , Mo o i s correct i n not i ng
t hat t he ferni ni ne part i ci pl e ' s t ai n' (f) a mAo Oo a ) is ' ver y difficult t o t urn i nt o
t he pr edi cat e of t he ver b "i s appoi nt ed" \
2 2
A s econd r ender i ng mai nt ai ns, ' The
t ongue is appoi nt ed as a fire, i ndeed, as t he wor l d of unr i ght eousness i n our
member s ; it st ai ns t he whol e body, set s on fire t he cour se of our e xi s t e nc e . . . '
Her e agai n ' wor l d of unr i ght eous nes s ' st ands in apposi t i on t o ' f i r e' , yet it is
t he t er m ' f i re' t hat i s t aken as t he pr edi cat e of t he ver b ' i s appoi nt ed' . A t hi rd,
and mos t popul ar , opt i on mai nt ai ns t he t ransl at i on, ' And t he t ongue i s a fire.
The t ongue is appoi nt ed a mong our member s as t he wor l d of unr i ght eousness,
st ai ni ng t he whol e b o d y . . . ' Her e ' wor l d of unr i ght eous nes s ' i s t he pr edi cat e of
t he ver b ' i s appoi nt ed' and as Mo o poi nt s out , it pl aces ' a punct uat i on br eak
bet ween t he initial assert i on and t he further el abor at i on' .
2 3
Thi s final opt i on is
l i kel y t he best overal l r ender i ng of t he pas s age; however , i n or der t o mai nt ai n
uni f or mi t y wi t h h ow t he ver b KaSiaTOCTOCi is us ed el sewher e i n J ames (4. 4)
t he t ransl at i on shoul d mai nt ai n t he mi ddl e voi ce. Thus t he pas s age shoul d be
r ender ed, ' An d t he t ongue is a fire. The t ongue appoi nt s i t sel f an unr i ght eous
wor l d a mong our member s , st ai ni ng t he whol e b o d y . . . ' . Thi s under st andi ng of
t he pas s age i s consi st ent wi t h t he Let t er ' s overal l not i on of b KOOUOS as an evi l
and unr i ght eous s ys t em i n opposi t i on t o God. J ohns on not es:
19. Dibelius, James, p. 194.
20. J. B. Mayor, The Epistle of St. James (3rd edn; London: MacMillan, 1913, p. 115; cf.
J. H. Ropes, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel of St. James (Edinburgh: T&T
Clark, 1916), p. 233; Laws, James, p. 91; Johnson, Letter of James, p. 259; Cheung, Hermeneu-
tics of James, p. 203. Here the genitive is a substitute for the adjective as elsewhere in James (cf.
2.4 KpiTCu SiaAoyiaucov Trovrjpcov, 'judges with evil motives'; cf. / En. 48.7; Mk 16.14; Lk.
16.9).
21. Moo, Letter of James, pp. 157-8.
22. Ibid.,p. 158.
23. Ibid.
9. James 149
James' meaning is only to be grasped in the light of 1.27 and 2.5, where kosmos
and God are opposed, and in light of 4.4, where the same verb (kathistemi) is used
for those whose choice of 'friendship with the world' has 'established' them as an
enemy of God.
2 4
Gi ven this underst at i ng of t he ' unri ght eous wor l d' , t he surroundi ng cont ext
does speak of creat i on i n i mpl i ci t l y posi t i ve t er ms, namel y humani t y ma de in
t he l i keness of God ( 3. 9) . Yet ' t he wor l d' , over agai nst God' s good creat i on,
carri es t he negat i ve connot at i on of an evi l and unri ght eous syst em i n opposi t i on
t o God whi ch finds part i cul ar mani fest at i on in t he t ongue. Therefore j us t as ' t he
wor l d' is t he agent of pol l ut i on whi ch r eader s ar e t o avoi d ( 1. 27) , so t oo t he
t ongue is l i kened t o t he ' unr i ght eous wor l d' t hat is abl e t o pol l ut e ' t he whol e
body' ( 3. 6) . Laws apt l y comment s t hat :
It is the tongue that brings the individual man into relation with 'the world'; indeed
brings the world within him... The tongue effects in a man the defilement that is
inherent in the world (cf. i.27, with the warning already in i.26 that the religious man
must bridle his tongue), and its effect is total: it defiles the whole body. The idea is
presumably that it is in his speech that a man identifies with that total hostility to
God, and shows that it is part of his inner character.
25
It is t hr ough t he t ongue t hat host i l i t y t o God, and consequent l y al i gnment wi t h
t he count er syst em of ' t he wor l d' , is mani fest .
The final t wo occur r ences of ' t he wor l d' ar e f ound i n J a me s 4. I n 4. 4
J a me s us es ' wor l d' t wi ce i n conj unct i on wi t h f r i endshi p: ' You adul t er es s es ,
do you not k n o w t hat f r i endshi p wi t h t he wor l d (TOU Koopou) is host i l i t y
t owar d God? Ther ef or e whoe ve r wi s hes t o be a fri end of t he wor l d (TOU
Koopou) ma ke s hi ms el f an e ne my of Go d ' . Si gni f i cant l y r eader s ar e wa r ne d
a wa y from ' f r i ends hi p' wi t h ' t he wor l d' . The not i on of ' f r i ends hi p' (<j>iA'ia)
i n t he Gr a e c o- Roma n wor l d me a nt above al l t o s har e, t hat is t o ha ve t he
s a me mi nds et , t he s a me out l ook, t he s a me vi e w of r eal i t y.
2 6
To b e a friend
of ' t he wor l d' i s t o l i ve i n h a r mon y wi t h i t s val ues and l ogi c - i n 4. 1- 10 t hi s
ent ai l s envy, r i val r y, compet i t i on a nd mur der . Fr i ends hi p wi t h ' t he wor l d'
is t he hei ght of di s l oyal t y t owar d Go d ( not e t he t heol ogi cal l y l oaded l abel
' adul t er es s es ' i n 4. 4 di r ect l y connect ed t o I s r ael ' s covenant r el at i ons hi p
t o God) . On e of t he mos t c o mmo n us es of f r i endshi p i n anci ent l i t er at ur e
appl i ed t o al l i ances , cooper at i on or non- aggr es s i on t r eat i es a mon g p e op l e s .
2 7
24. Johnson, Letter of James, p. 259.
25. Laws, James, p. 150 (emphasis original).
26. Friends were essentially 'one soul' (Euripides, Orestes 1046); they 'share all things in
common' (Aristotle, Eth. nic. 9.82); a friend is 'another self (Eth. nic. 1166A; Cicero, De amici-
tia 21.80); furthermore, friends 'saw things the same way' for in friendship there is 'equality'
(Plato, Laws 151 A; 744B; Aristotle, Eth. nic. 1157B; see Johnson, Letter of James, pp. 243-4).
27. See Homer, //. 3.93, 256; 4.17; 26.282; Virgil, Aen. 11.321; Demosthenes, On the Navy
Boards 5; On the Embassy 62; Letters 3.27.
150 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
Thus , ' f r i ends hi p' wi t h ' t he wor l d' cons t i t ut es an al l i ance wi t h a s ys t em of
val uat i on set agai ns t God.
The emer gi ng framework from this and t he above references t o ' t he wor l d'
shows t hat J ames is not wor ki ng wi t h a strict cosmol ogi cal dual i sm - ' t he wor l d'
is not mer el y t he trees, cities and peopl es of t he physi cal eart h. Rat her, as Johnson
puts it, t he wor l d i s ' a syst em of unt r ammel ed desi re and ar r ogance' .
2 8
The ' wor l d'
here is more t han t he mat eri al wor l d or humani t y in general , but rat her t he ent i re
cul t ural val ue syst em or worl d-order whi ch is host i l e t owar d what J ames frames
as t he di vi ne val ue syst em. Her e references t o ' t he wor l d' are cl earl y i nt ended t o
be pl ot t ed as boundar y l i nes upon J a me s ' t heol ogi cal ma p of reality.
A r el at ed r ef er ence t o what is ' ear t hl y' comes i n ch. 3. Her e ' wi s dom from
a bove ' i s set at odds wi t h wi s dom t hat is ' eart hl y, unspi r i t ual , de moni c ' ( 3. 14) .
Thi s so- cal l ed wi s dom, whi ch ani mat es sel f - seeki ng, i s ' ear t hl y' (ETnyEios),
' uns pi r i t uar (V|/UXIKTI), and ' de mon i c ' (5cci|JOvcoSr}s). Each adj ect i ve i ndi cat es
an i ncr easi ngl y negat i ve aspect of this wi s dom and t hus furt her al i enat i on from
God.
2 9
The first term, ' ear t hl y' , is not at t est ed i n t he LXX and i n t he NT it is
often us ed for what is charact eri st i c of t he eart h as oppos ed t o t he heavenl y
( see Jn 3. 12; 1 Cor. 15. 40; 2 Cor. 5. 1; Phi l . 2. 10) . Wi t h this i mpl i ci t cont rast i n
mi nd, ' ear t hl y' denot es not onl y what i s i nferi or t o t he heavenl y, but al so t hat
whi ch is i n opposi t i on t o t he heavenl y. I f J ames consi st ent l y uses ' t he wor l d' t o
denot e t he cont agi ous s ys t em of val ues st andi ng i n opposi t i on t o God, t he term
' ear t hl y' t hen cert ai nl y rei nf orces this not i on. ' Ear t hl y' speci fi cal l y descr i bes a
count er form of so- cal l ed wi s dom whi ch is not ' f r om a bove ' but i s of ' eart hl y,
de moni c ' ori gi n. The next verse carri es t hr ough on t he l ogi c of this wi s dom,
for J ames states t hat ' wher e j eal ous y and selfish ambi t i on exi st , there wi l l be
di sor der (aKCCTaaTaaicc) and every vi l e (<J>auAov) pr act i ce' ( 3. 16) . ' Ear t hl y'
wi s dom traffics i n j eal ous y and selfish ambi t i on, t he ext er nal qual i t i es i ndi cat i ve
of one mot i vat ed by sel f -i nt erest , vi ewi ng ot her s as ri val s becaus e they pos s es s
what he hi ms el f l acks. Agai n, this i s no me r e dual i st i c concept for, accor di ng t o
3. 16, this ' ear t hl y' wi s dom i s an ext ensi on of a t heol ogi cal worl d-order whi ch
is host i l e t owar d God.
' Wor l d' and ' ear t hl y' t hr oughout J ames consi st ent l y refer t o t he wor l d as a
count er meas ur e of order over agai nst t he order of God. Mo o comment s i n this
r egar d:
The 'world' is a common biblical way of referring to the ungodly worldview and
lifestyle that characterizes human life in its estrangement from the creator. Christians
who have ended that estrangement by accepting the reconciling work of God in Christ
must constantly work to distance themselves from the way of life that surrounds
us on every side - to keep themselves 'spotless'... from the world's contaminating
influence.
30
28. Johnson, Brother of Jesus, Friend of God, p. 210.
29. Ropes, St. James, p. 248.
30. Moo, Letter of James, p. 97
9 . James 1 5 1
Wher eas J ames refers to God' s cr eat ed or der i n posi t i ve t er ms ( 3 . 9 , see al so
1 . 1 8 ) , ' t he wor l d' ( o Koopos) i s cl earl y a s ys t em of val uat i on at odds wi t h
God' s s ys t em of val uat i on and order.
2 . The Heavenly in James: 'From Above*and the
'Father of Lights' in James' Cosmology
Wher eas ' ear t hl y' wi s dom pr oduces ' bi t t er j eal ous y' and ' sel fi sh ambi t i on'
( 3 . 1 4 ) , wi s dom ' f r om a bove ' (avcoSev) pr oduces t he host of posi t i ve qual i t i es
l i st ed i n 3 . 1 7 ( puri t y bei ng chi ef a mong t hem) . As t he rhet ori c of t he pas s age
unf ol ds, t he ori gi n of wi s dom is hi ghl i ght ed as comi ng down ' f r om a bove ' , t hat
i s, from God, and t hus t he onl y real wi s dom. The 8E i n 3 . 1 7 si gnal s a cont rast
wi t h what has c ome bef or e, namel y t hat wi s dom ' f r om above' is set agai nst
' ear t hl y' wi s dom bot h wi t h r espect t o its or i gi n and its effect. Agai n, t he r het o-
ri c r eveal s t he aut hor ' s vi ew t hat ' ear t hl y' wi s dom i s real l y such by n a me onl y,
and t hat t he wi s dom comi ng down from above, t hat i s from God, is t he onl y real
wi s dom by whi ch one ma y demons t r at e he is ' wi s e and under s t andi ng' ( 3 . 1 3 ) .
The first charact eri st i c of ' wi s dom from above' i s t hat i t i s ' pur e ' ( ayvr j ) .
Her e, a y v o s denot es t hat ' wi s dom from a bove ' i s free from t heol ogi cal
cont ami nat i on ( whi ch ' t he wor l d' conveys t o J a me s ' r eader s, 1 . 2 7 , 3 . 6 ) and,
t heref ore, ent ai l s t ot al si nceri t y or al l egi ance t o God. Thi s is ver y muc h l i ke t he
cent ral not i on of whol ehear t ed, undi vi ded commi t ment t o God conveyed by t he
cent ral i dea of ' per f ect i on' (TEAEIOS) i nt r oduced i n 1 . 2 - 4 .
3 1
Har t i n suggest s:
This pure wisdom is such that it has come down from above (3:17) as opposed to the
wisdom from the earth, which is 'demonic* (3:15). This provides the backdrop to the
search for wholeness and purity: it comes from having access to God, from being in
a wholehearted relationship with God.
3 2
On one l evel t hi s spat i al dual i sm, ' f r om a bove ' over agai nst ' ear t hl y' r eveal s
an i mpor t ant r egi on of J a me s ' cos mol ogi cal ma p of t he uni ver se. That whi ch
comes ' f r om above' is i mpl i ci t l y rel at ed t o God and t hus pur e. J ohn El l i ot t
not es:
This distinction between divine wisdom 'from above' and devilish wisdom 'from
below' is significant conceptually and socially. Conceptually, this distinction between
above and below demarcates and contrasts two distinct and opposing realms of the
cosmos in terms of a spatial perspective. Accordingly, for James, space rather than
time, as in other Christian writings, becomes the dominant perspective for viewing
issues of human allegiance, good and evil, purity and impurity.
33
31. Both Cheung (Hermeneutics of James, p. 143) and P. Hartin, A Spirituality of Perfection:
Faith in Action in the Letter of James (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1999), p. 72 n. 34 make this
connection independently of one another.
32. Patrick Hartin, James (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2003), p. 74.
33. Elliott, 'Holiness-Wholeness', p. 77 (emphasis original).
152 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
Unf or t unat el y El l i ot t onl y sees t he concept ual and soci al si gni fi cance of t hi s con-
t rast . Wi t hout a doubt t hese r eal ms of cos mos , whi l e conveyed i n spat i al t er ms,
are i ndi cat i ve of h o w J ames chart s t heol ogi cal real i t y as a whol e. Fur t her mor e,
El l i ot t posi t s t oo shar p a di st i nct i on bet ween space and t i me i n J ames . Though
l argel y i mpl i ci t , J ames i ndi cat es a full expect at i on t hat t he spat i al di st i nct i on
bet ween wi s dom ' f r om above' and ' ear t hl y' wi s dom is ul t i mat el y rel at ed t o t he
t empor al cons ummat i on of ' per f ect i on' (1. 4) i n hi s r eader s i n t he eschat ol ogi cal
future. Cl ear l y t he pat i ent wai t i ng for t he ' comi ng of t he Lor d' (5. 7) and its
i ncumbent fut ure expect at i on of rest orat i on cast s doubt on such a shar p space/
t i me di st i nct i on.
3 4
What is ul t i mat el y behi nd t he cont rast bet ween t he t wo ki nds
of wi s dom i n t hei r cosmol ogi cal ori ent at i on is a t heol ogi cal cont rast bet ween
God and t he wor l d/ devi l , wi t h t hei r r espect i ve syst ems of val ues. An d such a
cont rast rhet ori cal l y pus hes t he r eader s t o ma ke a choi ce t o whi ch syst em t hey
wi l l al i gn t hemsel ves.
Fur t her mor e, wi s dom ' f r om above' (avcoBsv) i s vi ewed as an i nst r ument
ori gi nat i ng cosmol ogi cal l y (spat i al l y) and t heol ogi cal l y from God. The one
l acki ng wi s dom is t o ask from God i n faith ( 1. 5) , and t hi s wi s dom cert ai nl y is
t he ' good endowment and ever y perfect gi ft ' t hat comes ' f r om a bove ' (avcoBsv)
( 1. 17) . Thes e good and perfect gifts c ome down ' f r om t he Fat her of l i ght s' ,
anot her i ndi cat i on of J a me s ' cos mi c cart ography. Wher eas J ames descr i bes God
in charact eri st i cal l y J ewi s h t er ms , referri ng t o t he cl assi c art i cul at i on of Jewi sh
monot hei s m t he Shema ( 2. 19; 4. 12 el s SOTIV [6] VOMO8TT)S Kai KpiTT|s, 4. 12) ,
J ames al so refers t o God i n t he br oader sense of creat or of al l , namel y as ' Fat her
of l i ght s' . Thi s descr i pt i on of God is r ar e and mos t l i kel y refers t o t he fact t hat
God cr eat ed t he l umi nar i es ( Gen. 1. 14-19, not e especi al l y t hat her e t he sun and
moon, r at her t han cal l ed by name, ar e cal l ed t he ' t wo great l i ght s' ) . An d it is
by means of God' s cr eat i on and cont r ol of t he l umi nar i es t hat hi s sover ei gn
power is cl earl y demons t r at ed (T. Abr. 7. 6; CD 5. 17- 18) .
3 5
J ames makes anot her
al l usi on t o God as Cr eat or in ch. 3. Thos e cr eat ed by God are not t o bl ess
' t he Lor d and Fat her ' onl y t o t ur n and cur se ot her s wh o have been cr eat ed in
t he l i keness of God ( 39; cf. t he i mpl i ci t al l usi on t o Gen. 1. 26-28). Thus J ames
cl earl y concei ves God as bot h Lawgi ver ( 2. 19; 4. 12) and Cr eat or ( 1. 17; 3. 9).
Obs er vi ng t hi s descr i pt i on of God, t he cosmol ogi cal and t heol ogi cal i mpl i -
cat i ons of 1.17 ma y be pr obed furt her still. I n 1.17 J ames cont r ast s t he char act er
of God wi t h t he l umi nar i es: t he ' Fat her of l i ght s wi t h wh o m t here is no vari a-
t i on or s hadow due t o change' . The phr as e ' wi t h wh o m t her e i s n o ' ( n a p ' GO
OUK EVI) i mpl i ci t l y set s out a shar p cont rast bet ween creat or ( ' Fat her of l i ght s' )
and cr eat ed t hi ngs (t he l umi nar i es) . Ther e i s nei t her ' var i at i on' (TrapaAAayTJ)
34. See for example the work of Todd Penner, who argues that the epistolary opening and
closing of James points to an eschatological horizon for the wisdom instruction of the text (The
Epistle of James and Eschatology [JSNTSup 121; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996]).
35. Martin, James, p. 38.
9. James 153
nor ' s hadow due to change' (TpoTrfjs aTroaKi aoua) - bot h charact eri st i c of t he
heavenl y l umi nar i es - t o be f ound i n t he ' Fat her of l i ght s' . The phr as e has l ong
pr oven difficult t o est abl i sh, for each Gr eek t er m i s a hapax legomenon i n t he
Ne w Test ament . The noun TTapaAAayri onl y appear s her e and i n LXX 2 Kgs
9. 20 wher e it r ender s t he Hebr ew flUaE or ' ma dne s s ' . Though TTapaAAayri
is rarel y us ed as a t echni cal ast rol ogi cal t er m, TponT) ( ' pr ocess of t ur ni ng' or
' change' ) can descr i be a ' sol st i ce' ( Pl at o, Laws 767C; Wi s. 7. 18) or t he gener al
movement s of heavenl y bodi es ( Pl at o, Timon 39d; Ari st ot l e, Historia Animalia
5, 9) . ATr oaKi aoua (or t he geni t i ve form aTToaiaaauccTOs pr eser ved in t he
mar gi n of X and in B) l i t eral l y refers t o a ' s ha dow' caused by s ome obj ect whi ch
bl ocks t he s un' s rays. J ohns on not es t hat , t hough t her e are several possi bl e
vari at i ons of t hi s phr as e,
3 6
t he basi c meani ng is qui t e cl ear: ' The t ext oppos es
t he st eadfast ness of God t o t he changeabl eness of creat i on, exempl i fi ed by t he
heavenl y bodi e s ' .
3 7
Though s ome woul d pr oceed t o ar gue t hat s uch l anguage
bet r ays J a me s ' Hel l eni st i c l eani ngs t owar d descr i bi ng God as ' unchangeabl e'
(t he not i on of cxTpsTrros) t hi s cont rast need not l ead i n t he di rect i on of Gr eek
t hought - namel y ont ol ogi cal i mmut abi l i t y.
3 8
Her e J ames mar ks t he vaci l l at i on
of t he cr eat ed order, especi al l y t he l umi nar i es, i n cont rast t o God' s st eadfast ness
( 1. 17) and si ngul ari t y ( God is ' s i ngl e' 1.5). God, as creat or of t he l umi nar i es,
exi st s i n t he hi ghest heavenl y spher e and r emai ns const ant i n cont rast t o t he
move me nt of t he cr eat ed l i ght s. The ' si mpl i ci t y' of God, hi s unchangeabl enes s
or bet t er st eadfast ness, is a charact eri st i c of hi s ' perf ect i on' or whol enes s (hol i -
ness) - a charact eri st i c J ames ' r eader s are t o st ri ve for over agai nst dupl i ci t y or
vaci l l at i on ( see 1.2-4 as set t i ng t he t heme for t he ent i re l et t er).
Not onl y has God cr eat ed t he l umi nar i es but he ' gave us bi rt h by t he wor d of
t rut h, so t hat we woul d be c ome a ki nd of first Sui t s of hi s creat ures (KTiapccTcov)'
( 1. 18) . Some have ar gued t hat t he bi rt h i mager y her e onl y refers t o God' s
cr eat i on of huma n bei ngs - and t hus specifically not t o r edempt i on.
3 9
Yet if,
as Donal d Verseput has ar gued, t he ' Fat her of l i ght s' l anguage i n fact reflects
t he J ewi s h mor ni ng prayer, whi ch moves from acknowl edgi ng God as creat or
(l i t eral l y as ' Fat her of l i ght s' ) di rect l y t o acknowl edgi ng hi m as r edeemer , t hen
36. There are six different readings of the phrase noted in the Nestle-Aland
27
apparatus. Dibel-
ius (James, p. 102) offers the conjecture: TrapaXXayrj Tpon% fj aTTOOKiaauaTOs ('alteration
of change or shadow').
37. Johnson, Letter of James, p. 197.
38. See the discussion in D. J. Verseput, 'James 1.17 and the Jewish Morning Prayers', NovT
(1997), 177-91. Here he suggests that the image here refers to the unwavering character of God's
faithfulness rather than an ontological immutability.
39. Jackson-McCabe ('The Messiah Jesus', p. 712, n. 44) argues that '...the description of
those so "born" as "a sort of first fruits of [God's] creatures" ... can be understood quite well in
light of the Stoic notion of humanity's elevated place in the order of creation due to its endow-
ment with logos'. Indeed Philo uses the Greek verb 6: ITOKUECO in the sense of God's creation of
humanity (Philo, On Drunkenness 30). Also see the discussion in Moo (Letter of James, p. 79).
154 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
t he ' first fruits of cr eat i on' i n 1.18 shoul d rat her be vi ewed as a r ef er ence t o
r edempt i on. Thus Mo o hel pful l y concl udes: ' t he l anguage J ames uses i n t he
ver se, whi l e capabl e of a gener al " cos mol ogi cal " appl i cat i on, is mor e l i kel y t o
be r ead in a sot eri ol ogi cal l i ght ' .
4 0
The creat i onal mot i f (KTIOMOCTCOV) i ndi cat es
not onl y t hat God cr eat ed humani t y but t hat creat i on is i n need of r edempt i on.
Luke Che ung correct l y a s s e r t s : ' . . . t he creat i on mot i f has been appl i ed t o a t i me
of n e w cr eat i on i n t he OT and t he ent i re cr eat i on. . . is i n need of r edempt i on.
Chri st i ans are seen as t he firstfruit [sic] i n t he cos mi c r edempt i on' .
4 1
Though
Cheung does not pur s ue t he eschat ol ogi cal i mpl i cat i ons of hi s st at ement , it is
cl ear i n l i ght of Jas. 5. 7-11 t hat r eader s are t o endur e pr esent ci r cumst ances
in l i ght of fut ure hope of r est or at i on - t he first fruits of whi ch ma y be seen i n
pr esent r edempt i on ( 1. 18) .
3. Gehenna and the Terrestrial Sphere
Havi ng consi der ed t he ' ear t hl y' and heavenl y ( ' f r om above' ) , we finally des cend
t o t he dept hs i n 3. 6: ' An d t he t ongue is a fire. The t ongue is an unr i ght eous wor l d
among our member s , st ai ni ng t he whol e body, set t i ng on fire t he cycl e of nat ur e
( TOV Tpoxbv TTJS ys veoeeos ) , and set on fire by Gehenna ( yesvvri s) ' . We have
al r eady consi der ed t he cos mol ogi cal si gni fi cance of ' unr i ght eous wor l d' above.
Her e we ask furt her h ow ' t he cycl e of nat ur e' and ' Ge he nna ' (ysEvvrjs) fit i nt o
J a me s ' vi ew of t he uni ver se.
Ri char d Bauckham has ma de a ver y i nt erest i ng ar gument t hat t he t ext of
Jas. 3. 6 shoul d be cor r ect ed accor di ng t o t he Peshi t t a by i nsert i ng uAr] after
aSi Ki ccs.
4 2
Ba uc kha m t hen t ransl at es 3. 5-6: ' See h ow smal l a fire set s al i ght so
l arge a forest [ wood] ! The t ongue i s a fire, t he sinful wor l d wood' . Gi ven t hi s
r econst r uct i on he concl udes t hat t he ' first sent ence st at es t he i mage, whi ch t he
second i nt erpret s by i dent i fyi ng t he t wo el ement s i n t he al l egory. The i mage is
t hen pi cked up agai n in ver s e 6b ("set t i ng on fire t he wheel of exi s t ence. . . " ) ,
wher e TOV Tpoxbv T % yeveoeeos is s ynonymous wi t h 6 KOO|JOS T % CCSIK'ICCS \
4 3
Not i ng t hat it is onl y a possi bi l i t y, Bauckham obser ves t hat J a me s ' phr ase
' wheel of exi s t ence' is st ri ki ngl y si mi l ar t o t he Hel l eni st i c phr as e ' t he ci rcl e of
exi s t ence' ( b Tpoxbs TX\S ys veoecos ) , whi ch was us ed t o descr i be a t radi t i onal
puni s hment i n t he under wor l d.
4 4
He suggest s t hat t he odd phr as e TOV Tpoxbv
40. This is apparent especially in light of the redemptive context provided by the phrase 'by
the word of truth'; see Moo, Letter of James, p. 79.
41. Cheung, Hermeneutics of James, p. 87 n. 1.
42. R. Bauckham, 'The Tongue Set on Fire by Hell [James 3.6]', in Fate of the Dead. Studies
on the Jewish and Christian Apocalypses (NovTSup 93; Leiden: Brill, 1998), pp. 119-31 (119
n. 1); here he follows J. B. Adamson, The Epistle of James (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,
1976), pp. 158-9.
43. Bauckham, 'The Tongue Set on Fire by Hell', p. 119 n. 1.
44. In Hades Zeus bound Ixion to a wheel so that he would revolve around it for eternity
9. James 155
xfjs yev' eoecos i n 3. 6 wa s sel ect ed becaus e of t he pun bet ween yev' eoecos and
yeevvrj s whi ch t heol ogi cal l y i ndi cat es t hat t he puni s hment ( Gehenna) fits t he
cr i me ( t he ent i re ' l i f e' affect ed by t he t ongue) .
4 5
That Gehenna i s a fitting and ver y real pl ace of puni s hment sket ches a furt her
cos mol ogi cal feat ure of J a me s ' t heol ogi cal at l as. Wher eas 3. 6 i s oft en under -
st ood as i mpl yi ng t hat t he defi l ement of t he t ongue der i ves from t he power s of
Gehenna, and t herefore t he devi l ,
4 6
t hi s is unl i kel y. Agai n, Ba uc kha m poi nt s
out t hat Gehenna is not t he l ocat i on of t he devi l or of t he forces of evi l i n first-
cent ur y J ewi s h or Chr i st i an t hought . Rat her, he assert s Gehenna
is the place where the wicked are punished, either after the last judgment or... after
death. Its angels, terrifying and cruel as they are, are servants of God, executing
God's judgment on sin. They are not evil angels who rebel against and resist God.
These evil angels, with Satan or the devil at their head, will at the end of history be
sent to their doom in Gehenna, but they are not there yet. Rather, they inhabit the
terrestrial area from the earth to the lowest heavenly sphere. (It is with this area that
James associates them when he contrasts the wisdom mat comes from heaven with
the false wisdom that is earthly [eiriyios] and demonic [SaiuovieoSrjs] [3.15].)
47
Wi t h t hi s under st andi ng of Gehenna it is cl ear wh y J ames cont rast s wi s dom
' f r om a bove ' wi t h ' ear t hl y' wi s dom, i nst ead of wi s dom ' f r om be l ow' . It is
pr eci sel y t he demoni c power s at wor k i n t he t errest ri al spher e t hat pr oduce
a count erfei t wi s dom t hat set s i t sel f over agai nst wi s dom ' f r om a bove ' . Her e
J ames us es Gehenna as t he fitting l ocat i on of fut ure puni s hment due t o t he
t ongue' s defi l ement whi l e i mpl yi ng t hat demoni c forces ar e current l y at wor k
upon t he eart h speci fi cal l y t hr ough count erfei t wi s dom ( 3. 14- 16) .
4 . Conclusion: Cosmology and Theology in James
J ames chart s t he uni ver se vi a t wo compet i ng wor l d vi ews , or syst ems of val ue,
whi ch or der cos mol ogi cal and t heol ogi cal order. The cos mos i s bi f urcat ed
(Pindar, Pythian Odes 2.20). Bauckham further notes that 'the philosopher Simplicius (writing c.
300 CE), refers to the myth and gives it an allegorical interpretation in terms of Orphic beliefs: the
wheel, he says, is "the wheel of fate and becoming..." (In Aristot. de caelo comm. 2.168b). James
may not have known this Orphic interpretation of the myth, but he could have been aware of the
wheel as a punishment in hell depicted in Jewish apocalyptic descriptions, which had borrowed
it, like various other infernal punishments, from the Greek Hades...' ('The Tongue Set on Fire by
Hell\ p. 130).
45. Bauckham, 'The Tongue Set on Fire by Hell', p. 130. That the phrase 'cycle of nature', or
'wheel of existence' refers to 'life' see Dibelius, James, p. 198; Davids, James, p. 143.
46. See William R. Baker, Personal Speech-Ethics in the Epistle of James (WUNT 2/68;
Tubingen: Mohr [Siebeck], 1995), p. 128: 'what is conveyed here is tht [sic] the person who does
not control his tongue makes his tongue an agent for Satan's harmful designs on the individual
and society'.
47. Bauckham, 'The Tongue Set on Fire by Hell', p. 120.
156 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
al ong t he boundar y bet ween t hese t wo wor l d vi ews - one associ at ed wi t h
' God' ( 1. 27; 2. 5; 4. 4) and t he ot her wi t h ' t he wor l d' ( 1. 27; 2. 5; 3. 6; 4. 4 [ 2 x ]
;
or
' ear t hl y' 3. 14- 17) . Not onl y are t hese s ys t ems of meas ur e set i n opposi t i on, but
' t he wor l d' i s expr essl y mar ked off as cont agi ous t erri t ory - pol l ut i ng gr ound
( 1. 27) . Fur t her mor e, t he al l egi ance of J a me s ' r eader s i s det er mi ned by t hei r
car t ogr aphi c l ocat i on wi t h r espect t o r egi ons of ' t he wor l d' or God - i f one is
a fri end of ' t he wor l d' , and t hus pl ot t ed wi t hi n defiled t erri t ory, t hen he i s an
enemy of God ( 4. 4) .
Rat her t han bound wi t hi n t he ' ear t hl y' r eal m, God i s not onl y above ' t he
wor l d' , but above t he l umi nar i es as wel l . As ' Fat her of l i ght s' he r emai ns con-
si st ent i n cont rast t o t he vari at i ons of t he heavenl y or bs and t hus, i nhabi t i ng
t he hi ghest heaven, is a faithful and st eadfast sour ce of good gifts ( 1. 17) and
wi s dom ( 1. 5) . Becaus e God i s ' f r om above' , wi s dom ' f r om above' ( 3. 17) nec-
essari l y i s hi s i nst r ument al me a ns of r ender i ng defiled r eader s ' pur e ' ( 3. 17) . It i s
wi t hi n t he cosmol ogi cal spher e of t he ' ear t hl y' , t he ar ea from t he gr ound t o t he
l owest heavenl y r eal m, t hat t he bat t l e bet ween ' de moni c ' ( 3. 14) and heavenl y
wi s dom is wa ge d - wher e t he st ruggl e t akes on t he f or m of huma n submi t -
t i ng (t o God) and resi st i ng (t he ' devi l ' ) (4. 7). I n t hi s Epi st l e we vi ew J a me s '
t ext ual l y const ruct ed, t heol ogi cal gr i d as it maps out t he wa y of ' per f ect i on' or
whol enes s ( hol i ness) ( 1. 2- 4) for hi s r eader s. And, as we have seen, t hi s ' per f ec-
t i on' is ul t i mat el y expect ed i n t he fut ure r enewal r eader s are t o wai t for wi t h
endur i ng hope ( 1. 2- 4 and 5. 7-11). Wi t hi n t he l i nes of t hi s ma p t her e is at l east
one cl ear and pract i cal war ni ng: t he t ongue i s t he condui t t hr ough whi ch t he
pol l ut i ng wor l d t ransmi t s dupl i ci t y, t hus compr omi s i ng r eader s ' pr esent ' per f ec-
t i on' ( 1. 27; 3. 6) - and t hus per haps fut ure ' per f ect i on' as wel l .
J a me s ' cosmol ogi cal l anguage i s l i ne- dr awi ng l anguage - or ' wor l dvi ew'
l anguage - t hat r ender s a ma p of t heol ogi cal reality. Reader s ar e t o under st and
t hemsel ves as pl ot t ed wi t hi n t hi s t heol ogi cal const rual of t he uni ver se, and t hus
i nscri bed wi t h a ne w i dent i t y. It i s cl ear, i f r eader s are ma ppe d i n ' wor l dl y' t er ms ,
ani mat ed by ' ear t hl y' wi s dom, t hey are i n danger of t heol ogi cal defi l ement .
A ' per f ect ' r el at i onshi p t o God cl earl y cal l s for separat i on from ' t he wor l d' s '
defi l ement . Yet t hi s separat i on from ' t he wor l d' i s not mer el y cosmol ogi cal ; t he
cos mol ogy i s i nt egrat ed i nt o a t heol ogi cal under st andi ng of t he uni ver se wher e
i ndi vi dual s mus t st and free from t he wor l d vi ew of ' t he wor l d' i n or der t o be
whol l y devot ed t o God - t he l i ne i n t he sand dr awn bet ween a friend of God and
a friend of ' t he wor l d' .
1 0
C O S MO L O G Y I N T HE P E T RI N E LI TE RATU RE A N D J U D E
J o h n De n n i s
Thi s chapt er wi l l exami ne passages i n t he Pet ri ne literature and Jude t hat empl oy
expl i ci t cosmol ogi cal concept s and t ermi nol ogy. Cos mol ogy is us ed her e t o
descri be t he way i n whi ch our literature speaks about t he st ruct ure of t he cosmos,
or uni verse, as a meani ngful pl ace.
1
But our aut hors are not concer ned wi t h cos-
mol ogy as an end i n itself or for mer e specul at i ve purposes. Rat her, cosmol ogy
is deal t wi t h for t he express pur pose of theology, t hat i s, in order t o say s ome-
t hi ng about God and part i cul arl y God' s salvific wor k i n Chri st . Cos mol ogy is
t he canvas, so t o speak, of Heilsgeschichte (sal vat i on hi st ory). The pr i mar y goal ,
t hen, of t hi s cont ri but i on wi l l be t o i nvest i gat e how cosmol ogy serves t he aut hor s'
theological and et hi cal pur poses. Some of t he passages dealt wi t h are not ori ousl y
difficult and we do not pret end t o settle all t he debat ed i ssues. Nevert hel ess, it
is hoped t hat this st udy wi l l pr ovi de a clear, t hough i nt roduct ory, account of t he
function of cosmol ogy i n t he Pet ri ne literature and Jude.
1 Peter
1. The Setting of 1 Peter
The l i fe-si t uat i on of t he reci pi ent s of 1 Pet er is one of per secut i on and sufferi ng.
Thus , Pet er wr ot e t o consol e ' t hos e caught up i n such adver se ci r cums t ances '
Mi d t o pr ovi de ' per spect i ve on Chri st i an life t hat wi l l enabl e t he communi t y
t o s ur vi ve per s ecut i ons wi t h i t s fai t h i nt act ' .
2
On e of t he wa ys t he aut hor
accompl i shes t hi s st rat egy i s t o rel at e hi s r eader s ' l i ves t o t he r edempt i ve st ory
begi nni ng wi t h God as creat or ( 4. 19) and hi s r edempt i ve act i vi t y from bef or e
creat i on ( 1. 20) t o t he cons ummat i on ( 1. 5) . Ther ef or e t he aut hor is not i nt erest ed
by ' expl ai ni ng met aphys i cs , hi st ory, or cos mol ogy t o t hem, but by addr essi ng
t hem from wi t hi n t hi s wor l d, conf i rmi ng t he ne w wor l d t hey r ecei ved at t hei r
ne w bi rt h, and by deepeni ng and wi deni ng t hei r per cept i on of t he ne w real i t y i n
1. See R. A. Oden, 'Cosmogony, Cosmology', in ABD 1:1162.
2. P. J. Achtemeier, 1 Peter: A Commentary on First Peter (Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress,
1996), p. 65. See also A. Schlatter, Petrus und Paulus nach dem Ersten Petrusbrief (Stuttgart:
Calwer, 1937), p. 13.
158 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
whi ch t hey l i ve' .
3
Thus , cos mol ogy i s a means t o an end for Pet er, t he end bei ng
hi s r eader s ' faithful obedi ence t o t he Gos pel even i n t he cont ext of sufferi ng and
per secut i on.
2 . 1 Pet 1.20: The Foundation of the Cosmos and the Last Times
The l ar ger cont ext of 1 Pet . 1.20, namel y, w . 13- 25, cont i nues t he apos t l e' s
par aenes i s t o t hes e bel eaguer ed Chr i s t i ans . He encour ages t hem t o ' fix your
hope compl et el y' on t he fut ure gr ace pr omi s ed t o t hem at Chr i st ' s par ous i a
(v. 13) and t o be t hemsel ves hol y in al l t hei r behavi our , accor di ng t o God' s hol i -
nes s as t hei r pat t er n (v. 15), r at her t han bei ng conf or med t o t hei r f or mer desi res
in t hei r i gnor ance as non- bel i ever s (v. 14). 1 Pet . 1.17 communi cat es essent i al l y
t he s ame i dea: t he r eader s ar e t o ' conduct your sel ves in fear ( or reverence)
dur i ng t he t i me of your pi l gr i mage' . The sect i on compr i s i ng w . 18-21 ser ves as
t he gr ound for t he mai n cl ause of v. 17 ( ' conduct your s e l ve s . . . ' ) . Thus , becaus e
t hese Chr i st i ans have firm conf i dence t hat t hei r r edempt i on (Xirrpoo)) wa s
secured ' by means of t he val uabl e bl ood (TLIILCO ai f i aTi ) ' of Chr i st (v. 19), t hey
shoul d conduct t hems el ves in r ever ent fear t owar d God i n t he cont ext of t hei r
pr esent pi l gr i mage i n a host i l e wor l d (v. 17). Verses 20 and 21 t hen spel l out
furt her aspect s of t he pr ecedi ng ver ses: f ol l owi ng upon t he ment i on of Chr i st ' s
bl ood i n v. 19, v. 20 furt her descr i bes Chr i st as t he one wh o wa s ' f or eknown
bef or e t he f oundat i on of t he wor l d' .
Our pr i mar y focus her e concer ns t he meani ng and funct i on of t he obvi ous
cos mol ogi cal t er m Koa|iog i n t he phr as e upb KcrrapoXfis KOO\LOV ( ' f r om t he
f oundat i on of t he wor l d' ) i n v. 20. The t er m Koafios ( wor l d, uni ver s e) ,
4
us ed 7
t i mes in our l i t erat ure,
5
t akes on t he f ol l owi ng t hr ee basi c meani ngs in t he NT:
(1) ' t he s um t ot al of ever yt hi ng her e and n o w' ,
6
t hat i s, t he cr eat ed uni ver se;
(2) t he abode of humani t y, or t he i nhabi t ed wor l d; and (3) t he r eal m of si n and
al i enat i on from t he Cr eat or .
7
I n 1-2 Pet er and Jude, all t hr ee of t hese senses
are found. But , it mus t be kept i n mi nd t hat si gni fi cant over l ap i n meani ng is
i nevi t abl e.
Al t hough 1 Pet . 4. 7 does not empl oy t he t er m K<3a|ios, it never t hel ess us es t he
vi rt ual l y s ynonymous t er m TTdi ra i n t he phr as e TTdvrwv 8e TO reXos fyyyiKev
( ' t he end of al l t hi ngs has c ome ne a r ' ) . The i dea her e is t hat t he end, or final,
t r ansf or mat i on of t he cr eat ed wor l d ( meani ng 1) (or TTdvra) i s i mmi nent .
8
An
3. M. E. Boring, J Peter (ANTC; Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1999), p. 184.
4. See E. Adams' Constructing the World: A Study of Paul's Cosmological Language (Edin-
burgh: T&T Clark, 2000), pp. 41-81, for an excellent study of the term Koap-os in Greek, Jewish
and Pauline literature.
5. 1 Pet. 1.20; 3.3 (here meaning 'adornment'); 5:9; 2 Pet. 1.4; 2.5,20; 3.6.
6. BDAG,p. 561.
7. See further BDAG, p. 561; H. Balz, ' KOTOS' , EDNT2:3U; H. Sasse, ' KOTOS' , TDNT
3:885-9.
8. See also Jn 1.3 where it is said that 'all things came into being through him' (iravra 6V
10. Petrine Literature and Jude 159
over l ap of meani ngs 1 and 2 i s evi dent i n 2 Pet . 3. 5-6 wher e t he ' heavens and
ear t h' (v. 5) s eem t o be equat ed wi t h t he ' wor l d' : God ' f or med' t he heavens
and ear t h (v. 5; cf. Genes i s 1) and dest r oyed ' t he wor l d at t hat t i me ' (v. 6; cf.
Genes i s 6- 7) . God i s bot h t he creat or and j udge of t he wor l d i n its t ot al i t y and
al l l i vi ng bei ngs in i t s spher e. 2 Pet . 2. 5, a r el at ed t ext t o 2 Pet . 3. 5-6 i n t hat
bot h concer n uni ver sal j udge me nt
9
by means of t he flood (cf. Genes i s 6- 7) ,
decl ar es t hat God ' di d not spar e t he anci ent wor l d ( dpxai ou KO<j|JLOU) . . . when
he br ought a flood upon t he ungodl y wor l d' (Koapxi) aoefi&v). Ba uc kha m st at es
t hat cos mos her e ' means pr i mar i l y i nhabi t ant s of t he wor l d' ,
1 0
al t hough i n l i ght
of t he uni ver sal nat ur e of t he flood, t hi s ver se ma y wel l refer t o s ome ki nd of
' cos mi c cat as t r ophe' .
1 1
I n addi t i on, 2 Pet . 2. 5, al ong wi t h such r ef er ences as
2 Pet . 3. 10 whe r e t he ' heavens and ear t h' are anal ogous t o t he pr es ent ' wor l d' as
t he t ot al i t y of t he cr eat ed uni ver se ( meani ng number 1 above) , suggest s t hat t he
' aut hor of 2 Pet er s eems t o have t hought of t hr ee successi ve wor l ds : t he anci ent
wor l d bef or e t he flood, pr esent wor l d and t he n e w wor l d t o c ome ( 3. 13) after
j u dg e me n t ' .
1 2
What i s cruci al t o poi nt out concer ni ng t hese pas s ages i s t hat t hey
ul t i mat el y poi nt t o t he eschat ol ogi cal rest orat i on of al l t hi ngs: 1 Pet . 4. 7 i mpl i es
it in t he overal l cont ext of 1 Pet er
1 3
and t he ar gument s of 2 Pet . 2. 5 and 3.6 peak
at t he pr omi s e of t he ' ne w heavens and ne w ear t h' , or t he cos mos of t he ne w
age, in 3. 13.
The phr ases ' cor r upt i on t hat is i n t he wor l d becaus e of sinful de s i r e '
1 4
ev TCO Koau.q) iv e mGvuI a <|>0opas) i n 2 Pet . 1.4 and ' t he defi l ement s of t he
wor l d' (TOL [ i i daj i aTa TOO KOOJIOU) in 2 Pet . 2. 20 suggest t hat ' wor l d' i n t hese
i nst ances shoul d be cat egor i zed mai nl y under meani ng ( 3) : t he wor l d is t he
pl ace or spher e char act er i zed by sinful desi re ( emGuj j ua) ,
1 5
defi l ement and t he
cor r upt i on, decay and t ransi t ori ness of t hi s age (si gni fi ed by t he t er m c(>Gopd,
airroO eyevTo) and Acts 7.49-50 where the adjective Trdira refers to 'all things' created by God
including 'heaven and earth'.
9. R. Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter (WBC 50; Waco: Word, 1983), p. 250.
10. Ibid. Meaning (2) (cosmos as the inhabited world) is clearly found in 1 Pet. 5.9: 'your
brethren who are in the world'. BDAG, p. 561, categorizes 1 Pet. 5.9 under the definition 'world
as the habitation of humanity'.
11. J. N. D. Kelly, A Commentary on the Epistles of Peter and of Jude (BNTC; London:
A & C Black, 1969), p. 332; and particularly E. Adams, The Stars will Fall From Heaven:
Cosmic Catastrophe in the New Testament and its World (LNTS 347; London: T&T Clark,
2007), pp. 214-16.
12. Bauckham, Jttdfe, 2 Peter, p. 250.
13. SeeAchtemeier, I Peter, p. 294.
14. The translation here is Bauckham's from his Jude, 2 Peter, p. 182.
15. Bauckham's translation of emOuuia in 2 Pet 1.4 as 'sinful desire' is wholly justified. The
term's basic sense is 'desire for something forbidden or simply inordinate, craving, lust' (BDAG,
p. 372). In our literature it is used in the follow ways: 1 Pet 1.14; 2.11 (lusts of the flesh); 4.2
(human desires and will of God contrasted); 4.3; here; 2 Pet. 2.10; 2.18 (desires of the flesh); 3.3;
Jude 16,18 (ungodly lusts).
160 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
1. 4).
1 6
But agai n a mes s age of eschat ol ogi cal hope is pr esent i n t hese passages.
Bel i ever s have ' e s c a pe d' (dTro<|)6i3ya)) t he ' cor r upt i on' (c(>0opd) and ' def i l e-
me nt s ' ( p i a a p a ) of and i n t hi s wor l d ( 1. 4; 2. 20) . Becaus e of God' s ' magni f i cent
pr omi s es ' (1. 4) and ' i n accor dance' wi t h t hem, bel i ever s i n t hi s pr esent wor l d
' wai t for n e w heavens and a n e w ear t h' ( 3. 13) , or, t he ' eschat ol ogi cal gift of
a<t>0opoia ( "i mper i shabi l i t y", 1 Pet . 1. 4, 18, 2 3 ) ' .
1 7
Ret ur ni ng t o 1 Pet . 1.20, t he t er m ' wor l d' falls under meani ng (1) and refers
t o t he cr eat ed cos mos . The t er m is us ed i n 1.20 i n a pr eposi t i onal phr as e ( ' bef or e
t he f oundat i on of t he wor l d' ) t hat empl oys t he noun KcrrapoXii ( ' f oundat i on' )
and t he pr eposi t i on Trpo ( ' bef or e' ) and as such refers t o a t i me ' bef or e' or ' pr i or
t o' t he creat i on of all t hi ngs (cf. Gen. l . l ) .
1 8
Our pr eposi t i onal phr as e i s used
onl y t wo ot her t i mes i n t he NT: Eph. 1.4 speaks of God' s el ect i on of hi s peopl e
in Chri st ' bef or e t he f oundat i on of t he wor l d' and Jn 17. 24 speaks of t he et ernal
l ove of t he Fat her for t he Son ' bef or e t he f oundat i on of t he wor l d' .
In 1 Pet . 1.20 Chri st i s descr i bed wi t h a paral l el pai r of part i ci pi al phr ases:
(a) TRPOE-YVWCJP.EVOU (a) who was foreknown
TTPB KDTAPOAFJS VLOO\LOV before the foundation of the world
(b) 4>avpa)0VTO9 (b) who has appeared
7T' OX&TOV T(3I> xp&vuw at the end of times
The per son of Chri st , and by i mpl i cat i on t he r edempt i on t hr ough h i m,
1 9
is
rel at ed t o et erni t y past and t he end of t he age in whi ch bel i evers n ow l i ve.
God ' f or eknew' or ' des t i ned' (TTpoyivuxjKco) Chri st bef ore t he creat i on of t he
wor l d.
2 0
Thes e Chr i st i ans' r edeemer and hi s r edempt i on t herefore have not hi ng
t o do wi t h t he cor r upt i on and defi l ement s of t hi s wor l d ( 1. 4; 2. 20) but r at her
st and out si de its spher e. As B. Re i c ke
2 1
has poi nt ed out , 1.20a cor r esponds i n
essence t o t he t eachi ng of 1.4: God r eser ved and secur ed bel i ever s ' i nheri t ance
in heaven for t hem and i n 1.20 God has ' des t i ned' Chri st and hi s r edempt i on
' for your s ake' before creat i on. God not onl y foreknew or dest i ned Chri st before
creat i on, he al so caused hi m t o be r eveal ed ' at t he end of t i mes ' , t hat i s, at t he
16. Bauckham, Jude, 2Peter, p. 182; Balz, 'KOOUOS', EDNT2:3U.
17. Similarly, Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, p. 182.
18. The phrase, according to Balz, Voauos', EDNT2:311, means: the 'Cosmos has a begin-
ning that has been established by God'.
19. The two participles TTPOEYVAXJU.evoi; and (JxiveptoOevTos clearly describe XpiaToO and not
God's 'plan' of redemption. But given that the redemption secured with Christ's blood (v. 19) and
the fact that Christ 'has appeared at the end of times for your sake* (v. 20) suggest that Christ,
along with the redemption he came to bring his people, was also 'foreknown before the founda-
tion of the world'.
20. Achtemeier's translation of TRPOEYVOXJUIVOU ITPB KCRRAPOXRIS K<XJU.OU captures well the
intended sense: 'whose destiny was set before creation'.
21. Reicke, The Epistles of James, Peter and Jude (AB; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1980),
p. 86.
10. Petrine Literature andJude 161
' t he begi nni ng of t he end of time'
22
i n whi ch bel i ever s n ow l i ve. Si nce all of
t hese occur r ences ( 1. 20a- b) happened preci sel y for t he sake of God' s peopl e
( ' f or your s ake' , v. 20) , t hey have t he effect of ' f ocusi ng t he whol e s weep of
hi st ory on t he r eader s, and set s t hem, exi l es and al i ens t hat t hey ar e, at cent r e
st age i n t he dr ama of s al vat i on' .
2 3
I n addi t i on, becaus e t hese Chr i st i ans ' k n o w'
t hese t hi ngs concer ni ng t hei r r edeemer and r edempt i on ( w. 18-21), t hey can,
wi t h conf i dence, ' conduct t hemsel ves i n fear dur i ng t hei r pi l gr i mage' (v. 17) i n
t hese ' l ast t i mes ' .
3 . 1 Pet. 3.18-22
Thi s ext r emel y difficult pas s age i s full of exeget i cal mi nefi el ds whi ch we shal l
not be abl e t o di scuss i n det ai l i n t hi s chapt er .
2 4
We wi l l l i mi t t he f ocus
2 5
pr i mar -
i l y on t he ref erences t o t he ' cos mi c p o we r s '
2 6
i n v. 19 ( ' t he spi ri t s i n pr i s on' )
and i n v. 22 ( ' angel s and aut hori t i es and power s ' ) , all of whi ch rel at e t o t he
J ewi s h apocal ypt i c ' cos mi c my t h ' .
2 7
It is pr obabl y best t o t ake t he ' f or ' (on) t hat begi ns v. 18 as pr ovi di ng t he
' t heol ogi cal bas i s ' for t he ent i re pr ecedi ng sect i on ( 3. 12- 17) ,
2 8
a sect i on t hat
encour ages bel i ever s t o cont i nue t hei r ' good behavi our i n Chr i st ' (v. 16) even
as t hey ar e bei ng per s ecut ed for it. I n t hi s way, t hese Chri st i ans can l i ve l i ves
t hat bear wi t ness t o t hei r hope i n Chri st (v. 15). Chr i st ' s uni que deat h ( ' once for
al l ' , cnr a?) i s pr esent ed ' as t he obj ect i ve gr ound and cause of s al vat i on'
2 9
whi ch
pr ovi des t hese Chr i st i ans wi t h confi dence in their suffering t hat Chr i st ' s deat h
and r esur r ect i on accompl i s hed t hei r reconci l i at i on t o God (it br ought t hem ' t o
God' , v. 18) and vi ct or y over ever y oppos i ng power .
3 0
We mus t keep i n mi nd
t hat t hi s i s t he overal l poi nt of 3. 18- 22.
Chr i st ' s once for all sufferi ng for si ns i n v. 18a i s furt her descr i bed i n v. 18b
as Chr i st ' havi ng been put t o deat h i n t he flesh, but ma de al i ve i n t he spi ri t '
22. L. Goppelt, A Commentary on I Peter (trans. J. E. Alsup; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993),
p. 118.
23. Achtemeier, 1 Peter, p. 132.
24. On the extensive history of interpretation of w. 18-22, see particularly B. Reicke, The Dis-
obedient Spirits and Christian Baptism: A Study of 1 Peter iii.21 and Its Context (Copenhagen:
Munksgaard, 1946), pp. 7-51; and W. J. Dalton, Christ's Proclamation to the Spirits: A Study of
1 Peter 3:18-4:6 (Rome: Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1989), pp. 15-41.
25. In light of space restrictions exegetical conclusions will be mentioned for which I can
provide (at best) limited support.
26. Designated as such by Goppelt, I Peter, p. 248.
27. Ibid., p. 251.
28. So Achtemeier, / Peter, p. 243; L. Thuren, Argument and Theology in 1 Peter. The Origin
of Christian Paraenesis (JSNT 114; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999), p. 158; Kelly,
Commentary, p. 146; Dalton, Proclamation, p. 158.
29. Dalton, Proclamation, p. 122.
30. Achtemeier, 1 Peter, p. 251.
162 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
( NASB) . Thes e phr as es refer t o Chr i s t ' s deat h on t he cr oss and hi s vi ndi ca-
t i on by r esur r ect i on respect i vel y. The |v-8e const r uct i on t hat correl at es t hese
par t i ci pl es suggest s t hat t he emphas i s i s pl aced on t he s econd el ement ,
3 1
so t hat
Chr i st ' s r esur r ect i on is t he emphas i s . The f ol l owi ng t wo gr ammat i cal / synt act i -
cal quest i ons t hat bear di rect l y on t he meani ng of w . 19- 20 are: what i s t he
sense of t he dat i ve cas e of t he t wo nouns a a pi d /irvev[iari (v. 18) and what
does ev <S (v. 19) refer t o and me a n?
The t wo nouns i n t he dat i ve cas e ( NASB t ransl at i on: ' i n t he f l es h' / ' i n t he
spi r i t ' ) have been under s t ood i n a numbe r of ways , but pr obabl y t he onl y real
opt i ons ar e t o const r ue t hem as ei t her dat i ves of r ef er ence/ r espect ( ' wi t h refer-
ence t o t he flesh'),
32
spher e ( ' i n t he spher e of t he S/ s pi r i t ' )
3 3
or as i nst r ument al
dat i ves ( ' by t he Spi r i t ' ) .
3 4
If t he cl ause a>OTroir)9eis m>U|iaTi is a ref erence t o Chr i st ' s r esur r ect i on by
t he agency of t he Spi ri t t hen t hi s suggest s t hat ev to (v. 19), whos e ant ecedent
is t he i mmedi at el y pr ecedi ng WU(iaTL, shoul d l i kewi se be under s t ood i nst ru-
ment al l y
3 5
and wi t h t he f ol l owi ng sense: ' by wh o m [t he Spi ri t ] he went and
pr ocl ai med t o t he spi ri t s i n pr i s on' .
3 6
I n t he end, as Mi chael s obser ves, t her e is
not a gr eat deal of di fference i n t er ms of t he overal l sense, si nce ' t he wor ds ev to
Kai ser ve t o l i nk Co)OTToir|6eig cl osel y t o t he TropeuGeis eKT\pv^ev t hat f ol l ows,
maki ng Chr i st ' s pr ocl amat i on t o t he spi ri t s a di rect out come of hi s r esur r ect i on
from t he de a d' .
3 7
Whe r e di d Chr i st ' g o ' , what di d he ' pr ocl ai m' , and t o wh o m
di d he pr ocl ai m? Thes e ar e t he i mpor t ant quest i ons t hat per t ai n t o w . 19-20.
One of t he domi nant i nt er pr et at i ons
3 8
t hr ough t he cent ur i es has been t o
ar gue t hat Chr i st pr ocl ai med t he gos pel t o t he depar t ed spi ri t s (i . e. , ' t he spi ri t s
in pr i s on' , v. 19), t hat i s, t he unbel i evi ng cont empor ar i es of Noa h, wh o wer e
pr es er ved i n a pl ace of puni s hment after t hei r deat h.
3 9
The r ef er ence i n 1 Pet .
4. 6 t o t he gospel bei ng pr eached t o ' t he dead' i s oft en us ed t o suppor t t hi s
31. See D. Blass and R. W. Funk, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early
Christian Literature (Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 447; BDAG, p. 629;
Dalton, Proclamation, p. 137.
32. J. R. Michaels, 1 Peter (Waco: Word, 1988), p. 205.
33. Kelly, Commentary, p. 151.
34. Achtemeier, / Peter, p. 250; J. S. Feinberg, '1 Peter 3:18-20, Ancient Mythology, and
the Intermediate State', WTJ 48 (1986), 303-36 (335); R. T. France, 'Exegesis in Practice: Two
Examples', in I. H. Marshall, ed., New Testament Interpretation: Essays on Principles and
Methods (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), p. 267.
35. Reicke, Disobedient Spirits, pp. 103-15 and Michaels, I Peter, p. 205.
36. Achtemeier, 1 Peter, pp. 252-3. Similarly, Goppelt, I Peter, p. 254, n. 28.
37. Michaels, 1 Peter, pp. 205-6.
38. See the excellent summary of the history of research on 1 Pet. 3.19-20 in Feinberg,' 1 Peter
3:18-20', pp. 309-12.
39. So F. W. Beare, The First Epistle of Peter: The Greek Text with Introduction and Notes
(Oxford: Blackwell, 1970), p. 172; and Goppelt, I Peter, p. 259. The main thrust of this view was
also held by Augustine.
10. Petrine Literature and Jude 163
i nt er pr et at i on.
4 0
However , t he i nt erpret at i on t hat i s far mor e l i kel y ar gues t hat
t he ' spi r i t s' of 1 Pet . 3. 19 are t he fal l en angel s i dent i fi ed wi t h st ory of Gen.
6. 1-4 i n J ewi s h ( part i cul arl y 1 Enoch 6- 16) and Chr i st i an t radi t i on (2 Pet . 2. 4-5
and J ude 5 - 7 ) .
4 1
The full st or y appear s i n 1 Enoch 6 - 1 6 ,
4 2
a s econd- cent ur y
BCE J ewi s h apocal ypt i c t ext . It i s i mpor t ant t o not e t hat i n mos t i nst ances of
t hi s expanded J ewi s h saga about fal l en angel s/ spi ri t s, t he flood st ory ( f ol l ow-
i ng Gen. 6. 1-6) feat ures as an i nt egral part , j us t as it does i n 1 Pet . 3. 19- 20.
Fol l owi ng t he full account i n 1 Enoch 6 - 3 6 , t he st ory can be s ummar i zed
as f ol l ows. (1) The angel i c ' Wat cher s ' left t hei r God- gi ven pr oper abode as
' spi ri t ual bei ngs ' , t hat i s, heaven (7 En. 15. 4-7) and t hey r ebel l ed agai nst t hei r
pr oper funct i on as heavenl y bei ngs (7 Enoch 2 - 5 ) i n or der t o mat e wi t h huma n
wome n. As a resul t , t he Wat cher s beget ' gi ant s ' and engender all manner of
corrupt , si nful , and f or bi dden act s a mong huma n bei ngs . The offspri ng of t he
uni on of t he Wat cher s and t he wo me n ar e i dent i fi ed wi t h ' evi l spi ri t s upon t he
ear t h' (7 En. 15. 8- 12) . ( 2) The Wat cher s are puni s hed by bei ng put away i n a
hol di ng pl ace unt i l t hei r et er nal puni s hment on t he final j udge me nt day (cf.
7 En. 10. 6-12). Thi s ' hol di ng pl a c e ' i s var i ousl y descr i bed as a ' hol e i n t he
deser t ' (7 En. 10. 4-6), ' under neat h t he r ocks of t he ear t h' or ' i ns i de t he ear t h'
( 10. 12; cf. Jub. 5. 6; 14. 5), ' i n chai ns ' i n t he sevent h heaven ( 2 Enoch 7) , or as
a ' pr i s on hous e of t he angel s ' (7 En. 18. 21) wher e t he eart h and heavens c ome
t oget her, ' t he ul t i mat e end of heaven and ear t h' (7 En. 18. 11-16). Apar t from
t he cl ear paral l el s bet ween t he st ory of t he Wat cher s i n t hese J ewi s h t ext s and
1 Pet er 3, it i s al so st ri ki ng t o not e t hat t he Noa h and t he flood st ory i s al most
al ways associ at ed wi t h t hi s st r ange st ory of t he Wat cher s ,
4 3
j ust as t he No a h and
t he flood st ory i s associ at ed wi t h t he ' spi ri t s i n pr i s on' i n 1 Pet . 3. 19- 20. It is
t heref ore mos t l i kel y t hat t hi s apocal ypt i c saga st ands behi nd 1 Pet . 3. 19- 20 (as
it expl i ci t l y does i n J ude 5 - 7 and 2 Pet . 2. 4- 5) .
Wi t h t hi s concl usi on i n mi nd, whe r e i s t he ' pr i s on' (<|>uXaKTJ) i n whi ch t he
' spi r i t s' ar e l ocat ed and wher e di d t he r i sen Chr i st ' g o ' (TropUO|iai) i n or der
t o pr ocl ai m a mes s age t o t hem? Ther e is good evi dence t hat t he part i ci pl e
40. We will not specifically deal with 1 Pet. 4.6. But, suffice it to say that 4.6 uses the term
'dead' not 'spirits' (3.19) and the verb 'preach the gospel' (etjayyeXiCo)), not the general term
'proclaim' (icnptiooa)). 1 Pet. 4.6 concerns the Christians who have died, not the 'spirits' of the
unbelieving dead. See Achtemeier, 1 Peter, pp. 286-91 and France, 'Exegesis', p. 269.
41. This is now the dominant interpretation. E.g., Achtemeier, 1 Peter, p. 256; N. Brox, Der
erste Petrusbrief(Zurich: Benziger, 2nd edn, 1979), p. 172; Michaels, 1 Peter, pp. 207-9; France,
'Exegesis', pp. 264-81; Kelly, Commentary, pp. 153-4.
42. The story is also referred to in the mid-second-century BCE book of Jubilees 5, Josephus'
J W. 1.73-74 and the late first-century CE 2 Baruch 56. All translations for the pseudepigraphical
literature here and below are from Charlesworth's Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (2 vols.; New
York: Doubleday, 1983,1985).
43. For example, in Josephus, J W. 1.73-74 we find a clear association between the stories of
the Watchers, the 'sons of God' of Genesis 6, and Noah and the flood. See also T. Naph. 3.4-5.
164 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
TTopeuOetg ( ' went ' ) , f ound in t he st at ement t hat Chri st ' went and pr ocl ai med'
(v. 19), refers t o hi s as cens i on,
4 4
j us t as it does in v. 22: ' He i s at t he right hand
of God, after havi ng gone (TropeuGeis) i nt o h e a v e n . . . ' The ver b Tropeuopcu i s,
after al l , t he ver b t hat nor mal l y descr i bes Chr i st ' s ascensi on ( or hi s ' goi ng' ) t o
heaven i n t he NT.
4 5
Whe r e he went , or wher e t he pr i son wa s l ocat ed i n Pet er ' s
mi nd, i s not at al l clear. Fol l owi ng on from i nt erpret i ng Tropeuopai ( ' Chr i st
we nt ' ) as Chr i st ' s ascensi on, Dal t on ar gues t hat t he pr i son wa s s omewher e i n
t he heavens , as it is i n 2 En. 7. 1- 3.
4 6
Chr i st t hen pr ocl ai med t o t hese di sobedi ent
angel i c spirits in t he cont ext of hi s ascensi on. Thi s ma y wel l be t he case. But in
l i ght of t he var i ous l ocat i ons of t he pr i son i n t he apocal ypt i c t ext s not ed above,
t he ' pl ace' ul t i mat el y el udes us . Never t hel ess, t hat t her e wa s such a pr i son for
evi l s pi r i t s
4 7
' i s as s umed i n t he NT and J ewi s h t r adi t i on' .
4 8
Wha t di d Chr i st ' pr ocl ai m' (icnpuaaa)) t o t he spi ri t s, sal vat i on or condemna-
t i on? The ver b KT)puaoa) can be us ed of pr eachi ng t he gos pel ,
4 9
but i n ever y
such case, t he obj ect of t he ver b i s t he noun ' gos pel ' ( euayyeXi ov) . I n 1 Pet .
3. 19 t he ver b is us ed wi t hout an expl i ci t obj ect and t hus t he ' me s s a ge ' of t he
pr ocl amat i on is not speci fi cal l y st at ed. That t he mes s age of t he pr ocl amat i on
is negat i ve i s suggest ed by t he f ol l owi ng evi dence: (1) as Dal t on poi nt s out ,
5 0
2 Pet . 2. 5 descr i bes Noa h as a ' pr eacher ' (<fjpu) and hi s pr ocl amat i on is a
war ni ng of comi ng j udgement . (2) As s umi ng t hat t he backgr ound t o 1 Pet .
3. 19- 20 i s t he st ory of t he Wat cher s f ound in J ewi s h apocal ypt i c t ext s (par-
t i cul arl y 1 Enoch), t her e i s a r emar kabl e paral l el bet ween Enoch' s mi ssi on t o
pr ocl ai m j udgement t o t he Wat cher s i n 1 Enoch 12- 14 and Chr i st ' s mi s s i on t o
pr ocl ai m t o t he spi ri t s i n 1 Pet . 3. 19.
5 1
Enoch is t ol d t o ' go and ma ke known
t o t he Wat cher s of h e a v e n . . . ' t hat ' t hey have defiled t hems el ves ' and ' nei t her
wi l l t her e be peace unt o t hem nor t he forgi veness of s i n' {1 En. 12. 4-5). Lat er,
Enoch ' r epr i mands ' t he Wat cher s ( 13. 10; 14. 3), al so cal l ed t hei r ' chas t i s ement '
( 14. 1) . D. A. DeSi l va i s pr obabl y cor r ect t o ar gue t hat Enoch ' becomes a t ype
for Chri st , j us t as Noa h ( saved t hr ough wat er ) becomes a t ype for bel i evers
( saved t hr ough t he wat er s of ba pt i s m) ' .
5 2
The i nt erpret at i on ar gued above suppor t s t he vi ew t hat Chr i s t ' s ' goi ng'
(Tropeuopai ) is a ref erence t o hi s ascensi on after hi s resurrect i on ( ' made al i ve
44. Achtemeier, 1 Peter, p. 258; Michaels, 1 Peter, p. 209; Dalton, Proclamation, pp. 159-60.
45. Acts 1.10,11; Jn 14.2, 3; 16.28. Note the very similar wording in Acts 1.11 (TTopeu6u.vov
us* T O V o upa v o v ) as in 1 Pet 3.22 (TTopeuSeis' e l s ' oupavov) .
46. Dalton, Proclamation, pp. 177-84.
47. In Rev. 18.2 and 20.7 Satan and demons are held in a 'prison' (<|>uXaicn).
48. Achtemeier, I Peter, p. 256.
49. E.g., Mk 1.14; Gal. 2.2; 1 Thess. 2.9.
50. Dalton, Proclamation, pp. 156-7.
51. France, 'Exegesis', p. 270.
52. DeSilva, An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods & Ministry Formation
(Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2004), p. 854.
10. Petrine Literature and Jude 165
by t he Spirit, v. 18) and hi s procl ai mi ng (Krjpuooo)) t o t he spirits in pr i son refers
t o Chr i st who, ' on hi s wa y t o t he right hand of power ( 3. 22) , announces t o t he
i mpr i soned angel i c power s hi s vi ct ory and hence t hei r def eat ' .
5 3
Thi s i nt erpret a-
t i on is vi rt ual l y ma de cert ai n on t he basi s of v. 22: ' Wh o is at t he right hand
of God havi ng gone i nt o heaven after angel s and aut hori t i es and power s wer e
ma de subj ect ed t o hi m' . By t he us e of t hi s t hree-fol d list (dyyeXwv, ef oiktigjv,
8uvdp0)v), Pet er has referred t o a r ange of spi ri t ual bei ngs / power s
5 4
wh o have
been subor di nat ed t o t he risen and exal t ed Chri st . Thus , 3. 22 rei t erat es and
expands what i s f ound i n 3. 19. J es us ' t r i umph over t he power s of evi l woul d
encour age bel i ever s t o r emai n faithful despi t e t hei r sufferi ng by t he host i l e
forces i n t hei r envi r onment . ' Chr i s t ' s vi ct ory over t he evi l forces behi nd such
host i l i t i es al so ensur es t hei r [ Chr i st i ans' ] own final vi ct ory over t h e m' .
5 5
They
can now, i n t he mi ds t of t hei r pr esent difficulties, ' resi st hi m [t he devi l ] ' (5. 9)
becaus e of Chr i st ' s deci si ve vi ct or y over t he devi l and al l evi l forces.
Jude and 2 Peter
J ude and 2 Pet er are pol emi cal l et t ers i n t hat t hei r aut hor s seek t o deal wi t h t he
negat i ve i nfl uences of i t i nerat e false t eacher s ( Jude 4; 2 Pet . 2. 1) , al so cal l ed
' scof f er s' ( J ude 18; 2 Pet . 3. 3), wh o wer e encour agi ng i deas and l i fest yl es
t hat ar e cont r ar y t o t he faith once for all gi ven (cf. J ude 3) . Al t hough t hei r
t eachi ngs ar e different, t he t wo set s of fal se t eacher s share a basi c si mi l ari t y:
t hey c omme nd and engage i n i mmor al behavi or of var i ous ki nds ( Jude 4, 7- 8;
2 Pet . 2. 2, 18) . I n addi t i on, t hese t eacher s are not pr esent ed as out si ders t o t hei r
r espect i ve communi t i es , for t hey have f ound t hei r wa y i nt o t he mos t i nt i mat e
par t of t he communi t y' s life: t he ' f el l owshi p me a l ' ( Jude 12; 2 Pet . 2. 13) . Our
aut hor s have t o addr ess t hei r r espect i ve si t uat i ons head- on.
Our consi der at i on of t he funct i on of cosmol ogi cal l anguage and i deas in
t hese t wo l et t ers wi l l be l i mi t ed t o t he sect i ons i n whi ch t hi s l anguage is con-
cent rat ed, namel y, J ude 6-8/ 2 Pet . 2. 4- 10 and 2 Pet . 3. 4- 13. The specific i ssues
t hat wi l l be f ocused upon ar e: 2 Pet er ' s use of t he t er m TapTapoa) ( ' t o cast i nt o
hel l ' ) (2 Pet . 2. 4) , t he angel s kept i n t he chai ns of ' net her da r kne s s '
5 6
(C<*l>os)
( Jude 6; 2 Pet . 2. 4) , t he ' s l ander i ng' ( pXaa^r pea) ) of t he ' gl or i ous one s ' (oof a s )
( Jude 8; 2 Pet . 2. 10b) , and i ssue of cos mi c confl agrat i on (2 Pet . 3. 4-13).
1. Tartarus, the Nether Darkness and the Angels: Jude 6 and 2 Pet. 2.4
I n deal i ng wi t h t hei r r espect i ve fal se t eacher s, bot h aut hor s ma ke us e of exam-
pl es from t he OT and J ewi s h t radi t i on t o s how t hat God wi l l puni sh t he ungodl y.
53. Achtemeier, 1 Peter, p. 260.
54. For similar references to these spiritual beings, see 1 Cor. 15.24; Eph. 1.21; Col. 1.16.
55. Achtemeier, 1 Peter, p. 261.
56. This is Bauckham's translation of C&fos from his 2 Peter, Jude volume.
166 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
On such t radi t i on i s t he st ory of t he Wat cher s (evi l angel s) whi ch cl earl y st ands
behi nd J ude 6 and 2 Pet . 2. 4 t o var i ous degr ees. One can i mmedi at el y see t he
paral l el s bet ween t hese ver ses and t he st ory of t he Wat cher s i n 1 Enoch ( see
above) . The key el ement s i n J ude, 2 Pet er and 1 Enoch are: angel s r ebel l ed
and wer e puni s hed by bei ng chai ned i n a pl ace of dar kness unt i l t he final day
of j udgement . J ude' s ver si on i s cl oser t o t he Wat cher s ' story, not i ceabl e i n hi s
st at ement t hat t he angel s ' di d not keep t hei r own domai n, but abandoned t hei r
pr oper abode' ( Jude 6; cf. 1 En. 15. 4-7), whi ch in 1 En. 15. 7 is ' h e a v e n ' .
5 7
I n Pet er ' s appr opr i at i on of t he st ory of Wat cher s (2 Pet . 2. 4) he adds a refer-
ence t o ' Tar t ar us' : God di d not spare t he angel s ' but "cast t hem i nt o Tar t ar us"
(TAPTAPOCA)'. I n Gr eek myt hol ogy Tart arus, oft en associ at ed wi t h Ha de s ,
5 8
wa s
t hought t o be a subt er r anean a b y s s
5 9
wher e t he di sobedi ent ( whet her gods or
huma n bei ngs) wer e puni s hed.
6 0
Tart arus is part i cul arl y associ at ed wi t h t he
defeat of t he Ti t ans and t hei r puni s hment of bei ng chai ned i n t he abys mal dept hs
of t he eart h or Tar t ar us.
6 1
Myt hi cal Tart arus wa s wi del y kn own by Hel l eni st i c
Jewi sh wr i t er s and wa s associ at ed wi t h t he ' gi ant s ' of Genes i s 6 and t he angel i c
Wat cher s. For exampl e, s ome of t he J ewi s h t ransl at ors of t he Sept uagi nt ma ke
ref erence t o Tart arus i n associ at i on wi t h t he t radi t i on of t he gi ant s and Wat ch-
ers, LXX Ezek. 32. 27 refers t o t he Wat cher s or gi ant s (yiyas) of Genes i s 6 wh o
' went down t o " Ha de s " ' (#8r|s) and Jdt . 16.6 expl i ci t l y refers t o t he ' Ti t ans '
and t he ' gi a nt s ' .
6 2
J os ephus knows about Tart arus as a pl ace wher e di sobedi ent
gods are ' chai ned' ( 80) ) ' under t he ear t h' (Ag. Ap. 2. 240) . What is part i cul arl y
i mpor t ant for our pur pos es is what J os ephus does i n Ant. 1. 73-75. On anal ogy
57. 1 Pet. 3.22 may imply that the 'angels, authorities and powers' are in the heavens.
58. E.g., Plato, Gorgias 522E-523B; Homer, Iliad SAO.
59. Tartarus figures in Greek cosmogony and cosmology. In the Theogony, Hesiod gives an
account of the origins of the cosmos and particularly 'how in the first place the gods and earth
were born' (Theogony 104). Everything originates from a 'chasm' (xaog), a 'gap' or an 'opening'
from which the earth emerged. 'Murky Tartarus' (Tdprapa f\ep6evra) is located 'in the depths'
of the earth (Theogony 116) or 'under the earth' (Theogony 718). Homer locates 'murky Tartarus'
'far, far away, where is the deepest gulf beneath the earth...as far beneath Hades as heaven
is above the earth' (Iliad 8.10-14). Cf. Plato, Phaedo 111E-112A (Tartarus is a 'chasm' in the
'lowest abyss beneath the earth').
60. In Gorgias 523B, Plato refers to the myth as follows: 'Now in the time of Cronos there
was a law concerning mankind, and it holds to this day amongst the gods, that every man who has
passed a just and holy life departs after his decease to the Isle of the Blest... but whoever has lived
unjustly and impiously goes to the dungeon of requital and penance which, you know, they call
Tartarus'. See also Homer, Iliad$.5-15; Hesiod, Theogony 617; Virgil, Aeneid4.52S-552. On Tar-
tarus in Greek literature in general, see especially 'Tartaros', in H. Canick and H. Schneider (eds),
Der neue Pauly Enzyklopddie der Antike (Vol. 12/1; StuttgartAVeimar: J. B. Metzler, 2002).
61. The Titan myth was widely known in Greek and Latin literature and particularly in the
poets. E.g., Hesiod, Theogony 639-711; 811; Virgil, Aeneid 578-580.
62. See also L X X Job 40.20 (Tartarus is a 'deep' place); 41.24 ('Tartarus of the abyss' as a
place for prisoners); L X X Prov. 30.16 (the 'abyss' and Tartarus).
10. Petrine Literature and Jude 167
wi t h 2 Pet . 2. 4- 5, J os ephus confl at es t he st ory of Genesi s 6 and t he Wat cher s
wi t h t he st ory of No a h and t he Fl ood and dr aws a compar i s on bet ween t he evi l
deeds of t he Wat cher s and t he deeds of t he Ti t ans: ' i n fact t he deeds of t hat
t r adi t i on ascr i bed t o t hem [t he Wat cher s] r es embl e t he audaci ous expl oi t s t ol d
by t he Gr eeks of t he gi ant s ' {Ant. 1. 73).
6 3
Anot her Hel l eni st i c Jew, Phi l o of Al exandr i a, al so knows Tart arus and uses
t he myt h t o cont ext ual i ze hi s vi ew of di vi ne j udgement for hi s Gr aeco- Roman
audi ence. He wr i t es, ' And t he pr osel yt e wh o . . . has come over t o God of hi s
own a c c or d. . . has r ecei ved as a mos t appr opr i at e r ewar d a firm and sur e habi t a-
t i on i n h e a v e n . . . But t he ma n of nobl e descent , wh o has adul t er at ed t he coi nage
of hi s nobl e bi rt h, wi l l be dr agged down t o t he l owest dept hs, bei ng hur l ed
down t o Tart arus and pr of ound da r kn e s s . . . ' {Rewards, 151) .
6 4
Ther ef or e, i n
l i ght of t he fact t hat t he concept of Tart arus was wel l known and empl oyed
by Hel l eni st i c J ews and earl y Chr i st i ani t y,
6 5
it s eems best t o concl ude t hat 2
Pet er ' s us e of t he ver b TapTapoco ( ' cast i nt o Tar t ar us' ) i n 2. 4 is anot her exampl e
of cont ext ual i zi ng t he Jewi sh- Chr i st i an concept of di vi ne puni s hment i n t he
l anguage and t hought of Pet er ' s l argel y Gent i l e audi ence.
6 6
I n bot h 2 Pet . 2. 4 and J ude 6 t he sinful angel s ar e assi gned t o ( 2 Pet er: ' c om-
mi t t ed t he m t o fet t ers o f ; J ude: ' kept i n et ernal chai ns i n' ) t he ' net her dar k-
ne s s ' (6<|>os) whe r e t hey awai t t he final j udgement . As ment i oned above, t hi s
bi ndi ng of t he angel s echoes t he j udgement of t he ' Wat cher s ' i n 1 Enoch.
61
The
t er m C&fyos comes from Gr eek l i t er at ur e
6 8
and refers t o t he myt hol ogi cal not i on
of t he under wor l d or net her r egi ons .
6 9
The t er m t hus refers t o t he s ame subt erra-
nean r egi on kn own as Tart arus. Thi s i s part i cul arl y cl ear i n Hes i od' s Theogony
wher e it i s sai d t hat t he Ti t ans ar e chai ned under t he eart h i n ' mur ky Tar t ar us'
( TdpTapa f| poVTa)
7 0
and ' under mur ky gl oom' (OTO C&N f| epoi>Ti).
7 1
I n t he
s ame cont ext ' mur ky Tar t ar us' is cl earl y s ynonymous wi t h t he ' gl oomy c ha s m'
63. See the second-century CE Christian work known as Sib. Or. 2:229-240 in which those
who have been locked in 'Hades', namely, the 'ancient phantoms, Titans and the Giants and such
as the Flood destroyed' will be led to the final judgement seat of God and Christ.
64. See also Sib. Or. 4.185 where we find another Hellenistic Jewish author associating the
place of the final punishment of sinners as being under the earth, Tartarus, and Gehenna.
65. A. V6gtle, Der Judasbrief /Der 2. Petrusbrief (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag,
1994), p. 190.
66. Similarly Kelly, Commentary, p. 331; D. J. Moo, 2 Peter, Jude (The NTV Application
Commentary; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), p. 103.
67. Cf.IEn. 13.1; 10.4-6; 14.5; 54.3-5; 56.1-4; 88.1; see also Jub. 5.6 and 2 Bar. 56.13.
68. The term is found five times in the New Testament: 2 Pet. 2.4, 17; Jude 6, 13; and Heb.
12.18.
69. Cf. Homer, Odyssey 11.54-7; 20.356; Iliad 15.191; 21.56. Cf. BDAG, p. 429. Cf. Bauck-
ham, Jude, 2 Peter, p. 53.
70. Theogony 721; 736; 807.
71. Theogony 729. See also Theogony 650 where 'under the murky gloom' (irrrb Cfyov
TTp6evTos) is clearly describing the same reality as 'murky Tartarus'.
168 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
( x de os o<t>poio), t he pl ace wher e t he Ti t ans ar e assi gned (Theogony 807- 814) .
I woul d t herefore suggest t hat al t hough 2 Pet er makes expl i ci t ref erence t o t he
t wo t er ms t hat refer t o t he myt hi cal subt er r anean abyss, 64)09 and Tart arus
( 2. 4) , J ude l i kewi se refers t o t he s ame real i t y but by means of onl y one of
t he t er ms, 6<t>os. I n so doi ng, bot h aut hor s descr i be t he J ewi s h concept of t he
abys mal ' dar knes s ' or ' pr i s on' (cf. 1 Enoch 10; 1 Pet . 3. 19) in whi ch t he evi l
angel s ar e bound by means of t he t er ms 6<|>os. The key ver ses in 1 Enoch 10
r ead as fol l ows:
The Lord said to Raphael, 'Bind Azaz'el hand and foot (and) throw him into dark-
ness!'And he made a hole in the desert which was in Duda'el and cast him there; he
threw on top of him rugged and sharp rocks. And he covered his face that he may not
see light; and in order that he may be sent into the fire on the great day of judgement
(w. 4-6).
Thi s t empor ar y hol di ng pl ace shoul d pr obabl y be equat ed wi t h Hades , t he
pl ace of t he dead,
7 2
r at her t han Gehenna si nce Hades wa s di rect l y associ at ed
wi t h Tart arus i n J ewi s h and earl y Chri st i an t radi t i on (LXX Ezek. 32. 27; Phi l o,
Rewards, 151; Sib. Or. 2. 229- 240) . Gehenna on t he ot her hand appear s t o st and
for t he final pl ace of et ernal fiery j udge me nt ,
7 3
t hat i s, t he ' pl ace' wher e evi l
creat ures congr egat e after t he final j udgement . In l i ght of t hese connect i ons, t he
real i t y descr i bed by Coc^os and Tart arus ma y be equat ed wi t h t he ' a bys s ' and
' pr i s on' i n whi ch t he devi l i s ' t hr own' and ' bound' unt i l t he final fiery dest r uc-
t i on i n Rev. 20. 1- 10.
7 4
Moo' s concl usi on i s t herefore war r ant ed: ' Tart arus [and I
woul d add 6<J>09]... appear s not so muc h t o r epr esent a pl ace of final or endl ess
puni s hment ( as our " hel l " oft en does) , but t he l i mi t at i on on spher e of i nfl uence
t hat God i mpos ed on t he angel s wh o f el l ' .
7 5
2. Slandering the Glorious Ones: Jude 8 and 2 Pet. 2.10b
In bot h 2 Pet er and J ude t he false t eacher s ar e accused of ' i nsul t i ng/ sl ander i ng
( pXao^npea) )
7 6
t he gl or i ous one s ' ( 2 Pet . 2. 10b; J ude 8). Mos t i nt erpret ers agr ee
t hat t he t er m So f a s ( ' gl or i ous ones ' ) refer t o angel s, but i n J ude t hey are good
angel s and in 2 Pet er t hey are evi l .
7 7
I n Jude, t he t wo ' e xa mpl e s ' (8eXypa, v. 7)
in v. 6 and v. 7 ( t he angel i c Wat cher s and Sodom and Gomor r ah) ar e enl i st ed
t o s how t hat such si ns wi l l be eschat ol ogi cal l y puni s hed by God. The si ns of
i mmor al i t y of t hese t wo gr oups ar e equat ed: t he Sodomi t es ' i ndul ged i n i mmo-
72. Cf. Mt. 11.23; Acts 2.27,31; Rev. 1.18; 6.8; 20.13,14. See BDAG, p. 19.
73. BDAG, pp. 190-1; J. Jeremias, '$8r|s\ TDNT 1:148.
74. Similarly J. Jeremias,' afivooos', TDNT 1:9-10.
75. Moo, 2 Peter, Jude, p. 103.
76. The verb pXaacJ>r|u.ea) can mean 'to revile, defame, slander, speak disrespectfully of
someone. See BDAG, p. 178.
77. So Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, p. 261; Vdgt\G,Judasbrief, p. 50; Moo, 2 Peter, Jude, p. 122;
Kelly, Commentary, p. 337.
10. Petrine Literature and Jude 169
ral i t y' (eicrropveua)) ' i n t he s ame wa y a s ' (TOV S| ioiov Tp6*rrov) t he angel s in v. 6.
J ude i s cl earl y referri ng t o t he i nci dent i n Gen. 19. 1-11 and t hus Ba uc kha m' s
assessment is accur at e: ' As t he angel s fell becaus e of t hei r l ust for wome n, so
t he Sodomi t es desi r ed sexual rel at i ons wi t h a nge l s ' .
7 8
Bauckham i s al so cor r ect
t o see i n J ude' s ref erences t o t he Wat cher s and Sodom a si mi l ar t radi t i on as
is f ound i n T. Naph. 3. I n t hi s chapt er t he si ns of Sodom and t he Wat cher s ar e
descr i bed as not conf or mi ng t o t he di vi nel y est abl i shed or der of t he cos mos :
' Sun, moon, and st ars do not al t er t hei r order; t hus you shoul d not al t er t he
La w of God by t he di sor der of your act i ons ' (T. Naph. 3. 2). I n ot her wor ds , t he
behavi our of God' s peopl e shoul d reflect and conf or m t o God' s or der ed (t hat
i s, obedi ent ) cos mi c st ruct ure. Thi s i s pr eci sel y t he concept i on of t he ' s i n' of
t he Wat cher s i n J ude 6, for t hey ' di d not keep t hei r own domai n, but abandoned
t hei r pr oper a bode ' ( Jude 6) . ' Abandoni ng of t he pr oper abode' , whet her by an
angel or human, i s a sinful act i on at l east i n par t becaus e it const i t ut es r ebel l i on
agai nst God' s cos mi c or der of t hi ngs (as i n 7 Enoch 2- 5) . In 1 Enoch 2, as i n
T. Naph. 3, t he cos mi c el ement s ( t he sky, l umi nar i es of heaven, t he eart h, t he
seasons, t rees, t he sun, cl ouds, rai n, et c. ) funct i on ' accor di ng t o t hei r [di vi nel y]
appoi nt ed or der ' (7 En. 2. 1) and as such t hese cos mi c el ement s are t he wor k of
God whi ch ' obey hi m [ God] ' and do ' not change; but ever yt hi ng funct i ons i n
t he wa y i n whi ch Go d has or der ed i t ' (7 En. 5. 2). ' Yet i n t he s ame manner t hese
dr eamer s defile t he fl esh' ( Jude 8) , t hat i s, t hey behave as t he sinful angel s and
t he Sodomi t es di d whe n t hey ' went after st range flesh' ( Jude 7) and as a resul t
r ebel l ed ' agai nst t he di vi nel y est abl i shed or der of t hi ngs ' . ' I n doi ng so t hey
wer e mot i vat ed, l i ke t he Wat cher s and t he Sodomi t es, by sexual l ust , and, l i ke
t he Sodomi t es , i nsul t ed t he angel s (v. 8 ) ' .
7 9
The act ual nat ur e of t he ' r evi l i ng/
i nsul t i ng' of t he angel s i s uncl ear. Ba uc kha m ma y be correct t o gr ound t he
i nsul t s i n t hei r ant i nomi an ' rej ect i on of t he aut hori t y of t he Lo r d '
8 0
(v. 8) and
hi s l aws, part i cul arl y i n l i ght of t he fact t hat t he angel s wer e vi ewed as t he
guar di ans of t he Mos ai c La w (cf. Gal . 3. 19) and t he cr eat ed order, an ' office
from whi ch t he Wat cher s apost at i zed, v. 6 ' .
8 1
I n 2 Pet . 2. 10a- b t he fal se t eacher s ar e si mi l arl y descr i bed as t hose wh o
' i ndul ge t he flesh (cf. Jude 8: ' defile t he flesh'), ' flout t he aut hori t y of t he Lor d'
( Jude 8: ' rej ect t he aut hori t y of t he Lor d' ) and ' sl ander / i nsul t t he gl or i ous one s '
( Jude 8: ' sl ander / i nsul t t he gl or i ous ones ' ) . But for 2 Pet er t he focus i s a bi t
different. The descri pt i on of t he false t eacher s fol l ows upon t he mai n poi nt
78. Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, p. 54. 'Going after strange flesh' (dTreX0ouaai omaa) aapicbs
Tpas), in this context and the context of Gen. 19.1-22, must refer to the 'flesh of angels'. See
also Kelly, Commentary, p. 259.
79. Bauckham, Jittfe, 2 Peter, p. 58.
80. The phrase KuptOTT|Ta aQerovaiv in Jude 8 means 'they reject the authority of the Lord'.
See Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, pp. 56-7 and Vogtle, Judasbrief, pp. 49-50.
81. Bauckham, ./!&?, 2 Peter, p. 58.
170 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
t hat Pet er ma ke s i n t he exampl es he empl oys i n 2. 4- 8, namel y, t hat t he Lor d
' knows h ow t o r escue t he godl y' and ' t o keep t he unr i ght eous under puni s hment
for t he day of j udge me nt ' ( 2. 9) . 2 Pet . 2. 10 funct i ons t o spel l out furt her t he
ki nds of si ns t hat wi l l be eschat ol ogi cal l y puni shed. Unl i ke J ude, t he st at e-
ment about ' sl ander i ng t he gl or i ous one s ' i n 2 Pet . 2. 10b i s furt her expl ai ned i n
v. 11. Al t hough t her e has been muc h debat e about t he pr eci se meani ng of v. 11,
t he f ol l owi ng vi ew is suppor t ed by mos t i nt erpret ers. The fal se t eacher s wh o
dar e t o sl ander t he ' gl or i ous one s ' , or rebel l i ous angel s, i n v. 10b are compar ed
t o t he ' angel s who, al t hough t hey ar e great er i n st rengt h and powe r [t han t he
gl or i ous ones, v. 10b] , do not us e i nsul t s whe n pr onounci ng j udge me nt on t hem
[the gl or i ous ones , v. 10b] from t he Lor d' (v. I I ) .
8 2
The fal se t eacher s ' l ack of
fear (t hey ' ar e not afrai d' , v. 10b) and t hei r pr esumpt uous overst eppi ng of t hei r
God- gi ven boundar i es , evi denced by t hei r cont empt for and l ack of r espect for
angel i c power s , wi l l i ncur t he s ame eschat ol ogi cal dest ruct i on as wi l l t he evi l
angel s (v. 12). Even t hough t hey deny it, t he poi nt her e is t o s how t hat t he
false t eacher s ' eschat ol ogi cal j udgement ' i s not i dl e, and t hei r dest ruct i on is not
a s l e e p' ( 2. 2) .
8 3
3 . Cosmic Destruction and Renewal: 3.4-13
a. 'All Things Continue as They Were from the Beginning of Creation' (2 Pet.
3.4b). The pr i mar y fal se t eachi ng of Pet er ' s opponent s, or t he ' scof f er s' ( 3. 3) , i s
r eveal ed i n 3. 4a- b: ' Whe r e is t he pr omi s e of Hi s comi ng? For si nce t he fat hers
fell asl eep, all t hi ngs cont i nue as t hey wer e from t he begi nni ng of cr eat i on' . I n
w . 5- 10, Pet er embar ks on hi s di rect refut at i on of t he false t eacher s ' assert i on
in v. 4. But what do t he fal se t eacher s assert or deny i n v. 4? Thi s ver se is
compr i s ed of a mai n pr oposi t i on i n t he form of a rhet ori cal quest i on i n v. 4a
and one t hat pr ovi des t he ar gument at i on for it i n s ome wa y i n v. 4b. The t wo
pr oposi t i ons can be par aphr as ed as fol l ows: t he pr omi s e of Chr i st ' s par ous i a
is empt y, t hat i s, it has fai l ed t o occur (v. 4a) because ( yap) , si nce t he fat hers
di ed,
8 4
all t hi ngs ( r a v T a ) cont i nue unabat ed, t hat i s, not hi ng i n exi st ence has
been al t ered or i nt erfered wi t h si nce t he or i gi n of t he cos mos . But h ow does t hi s
const i t ut e an ar gument for t hei r deni al of t he par ousi a i n v. 4a?
The st andar d vi ew of v. 4b st at es t hat it const i t ut es a rej ect i on of t he possi bi l -
ity of di vi ne i nt er vent i on i n hi st or y and t herefore, by defi ni t i on, t he pr omi s e of
t he fut ure par ousi a and di vi ne j udgement i s r ul ed out .
8 5
Bauckham, f ol l owi ng
82. So Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, p. 261; V5gtle, Judasbrief, pp. 199-201; Kelly, Commen-
tary, p. 337; Moo, 2 Peter, Jude, pp. 121-2; S. J. Kraftchick, Jude, 2 Peter (Nashville: Abingdon,
2002), p. 136.
83. V6gfile, Judasbrief, p. 203.
84. Adams argues that 'the fathers* most likely refers to the OT fathers since the scoffers of
2 Peter seem to be denouncing the OT prophetic promises of God's eschatological parousia (pp.
204-6). He is probably correct. See also Moo, 2 Peter, Jude, p. 167.
85. Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, pp. 293-5; Vogtle, Judasbrief, p. 221; Kraftchick, Jude, 2 Peter,
10. Petrine Literature and Jude 171
J. Neyr ey,
8 6
i s represent at i ve whe n he not es t hat t he cl osest paral l el t o t he oppo-
nent s ' ' rat i onal i st i c skept i ci sm about di vi ne i nt er vent i on i n t he wor l d' appear s
t o be t he Epi cur ean deni al of pr ovi dence.
8 7
E. Ada ms has r ecent l y ar gued t hat t he scoffers' cosmol ogi cal assert i on i n
v. 4b does not r es embl e Epi cur ean t hought . For exampl e, ' t he scoffers affirm
t he created nat ur e of t he uni ver se (KTLOL?); Epi cur eans, of cour se, t ot al l y
r epudi at ed t he not i on of t he di vi ne cr eat i on of t he c os mos ' . I n addi t i on, t he
scoffers s eem t o assert t he cont i nuance of al l t hi ngs si nce t he begi nni ng of
creat i on, wher eas t he Epi cur ean vi ew t aught t he opposi t e: ' t he cos mos and al l
t he cos moi ar e i nher ent l y des t r uct i bl e' .
8 8
Thus , t he st at ement i n 3. 4 ' i s best
t aken as affi rmat i on of cos mi c i ndest r uct i bi ht y' , refl ect i ng not Epi cur eani s m
but ' t he Pl at oni c/ Ar i st ot el i an doct r i ne of cos mi c i ndest r uct i bi l i t y' .
8 9
Never t he-
l ess, bot h t he t radi t i onal i nt erpret at i on of v. 4b and t he one set fort h r ecent l y by
Ada ms r ecogni ze t hat t he aut hor ' s opponent s rej ect t he expect at i on of Chr i st ' s
eschat ol ogi cal advent , or hi s s econd comi ng (v. 4a) . The ups hot of t hei r basi c
deni al of t he par ousi a excl udes t he eschat ol ogi cal j udgement whi ch i s par t and
par cel of t he par ousi a. Thus , ' t hey ar e free t o conduct t hei r l i ves (cf. 3) accor d-
i ng t o t hei r own pa s s i ons ' .
9 0
b. Counter-Argument Against the Opponents (2 Pet. 3.5-7). Consi st ent wi t h t he
mai n t hrust of 2. 9- 12, 3. 5-7 st ress t hat t he ungodl y ( daep^g) wi l l face eschat o-
l ogi cal ' j udgement and dest ruct i on' Ocpioecos Kal dTrcoXetg, v. 7; cf. 2. 2), despi t e
t he fact t hat t he opponent s i gnor e or over l ook key facts about cr eat i on and t he
Fl ood ( w. 5- 6) .
9 1
The cos mol ogi cal l anguage i n w . 5-7 ser ves t he pur pos e of
hi ghl i ght i ng t hat t he God wh o by hi s wor d (Xoyco) cr eat ed t he cos mos ( ' heavens
and ear t h' , v. 5 )
%
is t he one wh o by wat er (UOOLTL) dest r oyed t he cos mos of
pp. 152-3; M. Green, The Second Epistle General of Peter and the General Epistle of Jude (Leic-
ester: Intervasity Press, 1987), pp. 138-9.
86. Neyrey, 'The Form and Background of the Polemic in 2 Peter', JBL 99 (1980), 407-31.
87. Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, p. 294.
88. Adams, The Stars Will Fall From Heaven, p. 207. There may be another problem with the
majority view. As mentioned above, the false teachers of 2 Peter seem to be regarded (or at least
regard themselves) as in some sense 'Christian'. In light of this, Moo has suggested that, if the
opponents denied divine providence and intervention in the world, 'it is difficult to understand
how they could make any claim to be Christian, for they would have to deny the incarnation and
resurrection of Christ as well as his Parousia' (2 Peter, Jude, p. 168).
89. Adams, Stars Will Fall From Heaven, p. 208.
90. Kelly, Commentary, p. 357.
91. Adams, Stars Will Fall From Heaven, p. 210, is probably correct in arguing mat it is not
the feet of the world's creation as such that the opponents ignore or overlook, but rather the Flood
and 'the character of that event as the reversal of creation'.
92. 'Heavens and earth' in w. 5,7 refer to the cosmos in its entirety. This is demanded by the
term K6 OU. OS in v. 6 which clearly refers to the same reality as 'heavens and earth' in w. 5, 7. So
Adams, Stars Will Fall From Heaven, pp. 213-14.
172 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
Noah' s day, i ncl udi ng t he wor l d' s ungodl y i nhabi t ant s (v. 6) . Fur t her mor e, it
is by means of t hi s s ame God' s creat i ve ' wor d' (X oyw) t hat he has det er mi ned
t hat t he pr es ent ' heavens and ear t h' ( i . e. , t he cos mos ) ' ar e bei ng r es er ved
(T6r)aaupia[ii>oi) for fire' and ' kept ' (rn pou fiev oi) unt i l t he final j udgement
(v. 7) , all of whi ch agai n zer os i n on t he ungodl y (daepTfe).
9 3
Theref ore, con-
t rary t o t he false t eacher s ' assert i on i n v. 4, ' t he obser vabl e st abi l i t y of t he wor l d
i s . . . no guar ant ee of its cont i nued st abi l i t y i n t he f ut ur e; '
9 4
t he cos mos and t he
ungodl y ar e cert ai nl y ' bei ng kept for final j udgement and dest r uct i on' (v. 7).
The cent ral i ssues rel at ed t o w . 5-7 are: ( 1) what do t he t wo pr eposi t i onal
phr ases e v SaT os Kai 8t ' iiSaT os ( ' out of wat er and by means of wa t e r ' ) refer
to (v. 5) ? (2) What i s t he backgr ound t o t he not i ons of t he cos mi c dest ruct i on by
wat er (v. 6) and ( 3) eschat ol ogi cal j udgement by means of cos mi c confl agrat i on
( w. 7 , 1 0 , 1 2 ) .
1 . 2 Pet. 3.5: Word, Water and Creation. The not i on of t he cos mos as havi ng
been creat ed by means of God' s ' wor d' cl earl y dr aws upon t he OT ( Gen. 1.3-30;
Ps. 33. 6, 9; 148. 5; cf. Sir. 39. 17) and Chri st i an ( Heb. 11.3) t radi t i on. Thi s i s
not debat ed. The first pr eposi t i onal phr as e, ii&rrog (t he cos mos was cr eat ed
' out of wat er ' ) , is pr obabl y l i kewi se gr ounded in t he Genes i s creat i on nar r at i ve
( Gen. 1.2-7), whi ch i n t urn echoes t he gener al Anci ent Near East v i e w
9 5
t hat t he
cos mos emer ged out of t he wat er y chaos or pr i maeval ocean ( Gen. 1.6; cf. Gen.
1.2-9; Ps . 33. 7; 136. 6; Prov. 8. 27- 29; Sir. 39. 17) .
9 6
As Mo o put s it, t he phr as e e
u8aTos suggest s t hat ' Pet er i s agai n t hi nki ng of t he st ory of cr eat i on i n Genes i s
1, wher e wat er pl ays a si gni fi cant r ol e ' .
9 7
The s econd pr eposi t i onal phr as e i n
2 Pet . 3. 5 ( 8i ' 08aTos ) is not as easi l y account ed for. What coul d it me a n for
t he cos mos t o have been cr eat ed 8i ' uSc rros? Mos t i nt erpret ers still want t o
see t hi s s econd phr as e agai nst t he backdr op of t he Genesi s creat i on account
and as such it i s t aken i nst r ument al l y by Bauckham ( ' by means of wa t e r ' ) t o
suggest t hat ' wat er was , i n a l oose sense, t he i nst r ument of creat i on, si nce it wa s
by separ at i ng and gat her i ng t he wat er s t hat God creat ed t he wor l d' .
9 8
Thi s is
r easonabl y evi dent i n Gen. 1.7 wher e God ' ma de t he firmament and separ at ed
93. That this final judgement and cosmic conflagration have as their focus the punishment of
the ungodly and not just the destruction of the cosmos may be indicated by the fact that the other
occurrences of the notion 'kept (Tnpea)) for final judgement/destruction' have as their subjects
disobedient beings (angels, 2.4; the unrighteous, 2.9; the opponents, 2.17; and the ungodly, 3.7),
and all employ the term n]peoi.
94. Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, p. 302.
95. By 'echoes' I am not suggesting that Genesis simply takes over Ancient Near Eastern
cosmogony. Rather, Genesis seem to be opposing Ancient Near Eastern cosmogony and theology
by arguing that Israel's God is the true and only creator of the cosmos and thus he is wholly other
than the cosmos.
96. See Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, p. 297; and V6gtle, Judasbrief, pp. 225-6.
97. Moo, 2 Peter, Jude, p. 170.
98. Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, p. 297; cf. Kelly, Commentary, pp. 358-9.
10. Petrine Literature and Jude 173
t he wat er s whi ch wer e bel ow t he firmament from t he wat er s whi ch wer e above
t he firmament'. Thus , God' s act of ' separ at i ng t he wat er s ' br ought or der t o t he
chaos of Gen. 1.2 as wel l as t he f ormat i on of ' heaven' (v. 8) and t he ' ear t h' ( w.
9- 10) .
E. Ada ms chal l enges t he st andar d i nt erpret at i on of bot h phr as es , whi ch he
bel i eves amount s t o ' a st rai ned at t empt t o ma ke t he l anguage fit Genes i s 1 ' . " He
ar gues t hat t he doubl e phr as e e i)8aTog Kai 8i ' u8aTos (2 Pet . 3. 5) ' ma ke s best
sense agai nst t he backgr ound of St oi c cos mogony: wat er wa s t he i mmedi at e
subst ance out of whi ch t he cos mos wa s ma d e ' .
1 0 0
Ada ms s hows t hat accor di ng
t o t he St oi c vi ew, t he cos mos ori gi nat ed from pr i mal fire, whi ch changed i nt o ai r
and t hen condens ed i nt o wat er. The ' wat er y ma s s ' t hen changed agai n i nt o t he
four t errest ri al el ement s whi ch combi ned t o ma ke t he eart h and l i fe-forms on
it. The cos mos t hen ends i n fiery dest ruct i on, onl y t o r epeat t he endl ess cycl e of
r enewal and des t r uct i on.
1 0 1
The cycl e begi ns and ends wi t h fire, but , ' t he change
t o wat er i s pr oper l y the beginning of our world*.
m
Thi s i s i l l ust rat ed wel l i n
Pl ut ar ch' s Stoic, rep. 1053a and Di ogenes Laert i us 7. 142. Pl ut ar ch st at es: ' The
t ransf ormat i on of fire i s l i ke t hi s: by wa y of ai r it t ur ns i nt o wat er ; and from t hi s,
as eart h i s pr eci pi t at ed. . . t he st ars and t he sun are ki ndl ed from t he s ea' (Stoic,
rep. 1053a). Di ogenes descr i bes t he pr ocess as fol l ows: ' The wo r l d . . . comes
i nt o bei ng whe n its subst ance has first been conver t ed from fire... and t hen t he
coar ser par t of t he moi st ur e has condens ed as ear t h' ( 7. 142) . Ada ms ma y be
ri ght i n ar gui ng t hat t he concept of wor l d f ormat i on ' by means of wat er ' ( 8i '
i)8aT09) i n 2 Pet . 3. 5 reflects St oi c cosmogony. The aut hor cert ai nl y referred
t o ot her Gr eek concept s, such as Tart arus and Cfyos ( 2. 4) , i n or der t o com-
muni cat e Jewi sh- Chr i st i an cont ent . And, as Ada ms emphas i zes , i n 2 Pet . 3. 5
t he aut hor wa s not sol el y dependent on St oi ci sm; rat her, he has combi ned t he
creat i on account of Genesi s wi t h St oi c cosmol ogy. However , I cannot go as
far as Ada ms i n suggest i ng t hat ' i f t he aut hor . . . i s al l udi ng t o t he St oi c vi ew
of wor l d- f or mat i on, he i s i mpl yi ng t hat t he wat er pr e- cosmi c st at e of Gen. 1.2
was pr eceded by a mor e pr i mal st at e of t hi ngs - a st at e of pur e fire'.
103
1 see no
evi dence i n 2 Pet er 3 for t hi s concl usi on.
2. 2 Pet. 3.6: The Deluge as Cosmic Destruction of the Ancient World. The
cos mos wa s cr eat ed by God' s wor d ' t hr ough wat er and by wa t e r ' (v. 5) . But
(be) ' t he cos mos at t hat t i me ' (6 Tore KOO\LOS)
9
t hat i s, t he ant edi l uvi an wor l d,
was dest r oyed by t he s ame wor d of God and wa t e r
1 0 4
of creat i on (v. 6 ) .
1 0 5
Thi s
99. Adams, Stars Will Fall From Heaven, p. 212.
100. Ibid.
101. Ibid., p. 115.
102. Ibid, p. 213, n. 56.
103. Ibid.,p.2\3.
104. That v. 6 refers not to a local destruction (via the Flood) but rather a cosmic destruction is
clear. See Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, p. 299; Adams, Stars Will Fall From Heaven, p. 214.
105. The prepositional phrase 8i' <Lv ('through which') is best understood as referring to 'water'
174 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
cos mi c dest r uct i on vi a t he Fl ood pr epar es for t he eschat ol ogi cal dest r uct i on
vi a fire in w . 7, 10, 12. But , accor di ng t o Ada ms , t hi s under s t andi ng of t he
Fl ood as a cos mi c dest r uct i on goes be yond t he Genes i s nar r at i ve, a nar r at i ve
t hat por t r ays t he dest ruct i on as gl obal r at her t han cos mi c (cf. Genes i s 6- 8) .
Agai n he t hi nks t hat St oi c cosmol ogy, or bet t er, t he ' Ro ma n St oi c not i on of a
cos mi c del uge' , is t he cl osest paral l el t o 3. 6.
1 0 6
Ada ms chal l enges Ba uc kha m' s
ar gument t hat 2 Pet er ' s under st andi ng of t he Fl ood as a cos mi c j udge me nt ' i s
not s o al i en t o t he Genes i s nar r at i ve' or t o l at er J ewi s h refl ect i ons on t hat nar-
rat i ve. Ba uc kha m poi nt s t o t he account of t he Fl ood i n Gen. 7. 11, wher e ' t he
wat er s of chaos , confi ned at t he cr eat i on above t he firmament, pour ed t hr ough
t he wi ndows of t he firmament
107
t o i nundat e t he ear t h' . Enoch' s vi si on of t he
Fl ood i n 1 En. 83. 3- 5 ext ends t he i deas of Gen. 7. 11 i nt o cos mi c des t r uct i on.
1 0 8
Her e, heaven falls down upon t he eart h, t he eart h i s ' s wal l owed up i nt o t he
great abys s ' , and t he t hi ngs of t he eart h ar e ' t hr own down i nt o t he a b y s s . . . t he
eart h i s bei ng des t r oyed' (7 En. 83. 4- 5) . Ada ms count er s by poi nt i ng out t hat
t he Enoch passage says not hi ng about ' openi ng of t he wi ndows of heaven or t he
bur st i ng out of t he f oundat i on of t he de e p' (cf. Gen. 7. 11). ' Th e pi ct ur e i s real l y
about t hat of t he final wor l d- endi ng cat ast r ophe whi ch t he aut hor has i mpos ed
on t he flood'.
109
But what Ada ms over l ooks wi t h r egar d t o Enoch' s refl ect i on on Gen. 7. 11
is t hat t he ment i on of ' t he great abys s ' (7 En. 83. 4) c ome s from Gen. 7. 11 (cf.
8.2) wher e we do find ' t he fountains o/ t he great abys s ' bur s t i ng open and flood-
i ng t he eart h. The ' a bys s ' ( Di nn/ dpuaoos) , al t hough l at er associ at ed wi t h t he
dept h of t he eart h, wa s ori gi nal l y associ at ed wi t h t he pr i meval ocean and ' t he
ori gi nal flood' i n anci ent I sr ael ' s cos mogony.
1 1 0
Thus , t he abys s i s al mos t al ways
ment i oned wi t h a ref erence t o wat er ( s) or t he sea(s) and associ at ed wi t h t he m,
1 1 1
har keni ng back t o its us e i n Gen. 1.2. In fact, t he abys s i s i t sel f compr i s ed of
wat er. Prov. 8. 28 speaks of ' spr i ngs of t he a b y s s '
1 1 2
and Isa. 51. 10 ment i ons ' t he
wat er s of t he gr eat abys s ' . I n Ezek. 31. 15 t he abys s has ' ma n y wat er s ' ( Heb. ) or
' ful l ness of wat er s ' ( L X X ) . And in Isa. 63. 13 t he crossi ng of t he wat er s of t he Re d
Sea is descr i bed wi t h t he phr as e, God ' wh o l ed t hem through the abyss' ( 8i a
rfjs dpua a ou) . Her e, as i n 7 Enoch 8 3 , t he concept ' a bys s ' i s us ed al one t o refer
t o t he great wat er s . Thi s can be done becaus e t he concept wa s s o associ at ed
wi t h t he pr i maeval wat er s of creat i on. I n a sect i on wher e Enoch i s i nt er pr et i ng
and 'the word of God' in v. 5. See Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, p. 298; Kelly, Commentary, pp.
359-60.
106. Adams, Stars Will Fall From Heaven, p. 62.
107. Gen. 7.11 has 'the flood gates of heaven' (rO"IK / oupavos).
108. Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, p. 299.
109. Adams, Stars Will Fall From Heaven, p. 214.
110. Jeremias, TDNT 1:9; BDAG, 2.
111. E.g. Gen. 7.11; 8.2; Job 28.14; Ps. 77.16; 106.9; 135.6; 148.7; Prov. 3.19.
112. L X X Prov. 8.28 has 'springs under the earth'.
10. Petrine Literature and Jude 175
t he Fl ood, a ref erence t o t he ear t h bei ng ' s wal l owed u p i nt o t he great abys s ' (cf.
Gen. 7. 11) coul d onl y me a n ' s wal l owed up by t he waters of t he gr eat abys s ' .
Ther ef or e, final dest r uct i on i s not j us t ' s uper i mpos ed o n '
1 1 3
t he Fl ood st ory i n
1 Enoch 8 3 ; rat her, t he aut hor i s i nt erpret i ng t he Fl ood eschat ol ogi cal l y and as
a pr edi ct i on of final cos mi c dest ruct i on. Thi s s hows wel l t hat a J ewi s h aut hor
before 2 Pet er coul d i nt erpret t he Fl ood as an event of fut ure j udgement by
cos mi c des t r uct i on.
1 1 4
2 Pet er coul d have done so as wel l .
3. 2 Pet. 3.7,12-13: Cosmic Conflagration. The cos mos t hat Go d cr eat ed
(v. 5) wa s l ong ago dest r oyed b y wat er becaus e of huma n r ebel l i on and si n (v.
6) , and t hi s s hows t hat God can and wi l l dest r oy ' t he pr esent heavens and ear t h'
(i . e. , t he pr esent cos mos ) agai n, but t hi s t i me by fire. The ai m of t he dest r uc-
t i on i s eschat ol ogi cal j udge me nt and dest r uct i on of ' ungodl y peopl e' (v. 7) .
The cos mi c confl agrat i on br oached i n v. 7 pr epar es for t he descr i pt i on of t he
' c omi ng' Da y of t he Lor d i n w . 10, 12 as a ' da y' t hat wi l l br i ng about t he fiery
dest ruct i on of t he ' he a ve ns ' and t he ' el ement s ' ( aToi xet a) , t hat i s, t he whol e
cr eat ed uni ver s e.
1 1 5
Thi s ' comi ng da y' ( 3. 4, 10, 12) wi l l br i ng t he dest ruct i on
of t he cos mos and t he ungodl y (v. 7) . The dest r uct i on wi l l gi ve way, i n bi bl i cal
fashi on, t o t he ne w cr eat i on ( ' ne w heavens and ear t h' ; cf. Isa. 65. 17; 6 6 . 2 2 )
1 1 6
(v. 13).
The quest i on at t hi s poi nt i s, what i s t he or i gi n of t he i dea of t ot al cos mi c
confl agrat i on in w . 7, 10, 12? Ba u c k h a m
1 1 7
and Vogt l e l ocat e t he or i gi n in
J ewi s h apocal ypt i c and t hus t he cos mi c confl agrat i on f ound i n St oi ci sm ' has
however har dl y consi der abl y i nfl uenced hi s [aut hor] us e of t he worl d-fi re
not i on' .
1 1 8
They poi nt t o OT and J ewi s h t ext s t hat pi ct ur e God' s j udge me nt as
a cons umi ng fire.
119
Her e agai n Ada ms pr opos es t hat St oi ci sm pr ovi des a mor e
i mmedi at e backgr ound t o 2 Pet er ' s cos mi c confl agrat i on. He mai nt ai ns t hat
even i n J ewi s h t ext s wher e cos mi c cat ast r ophe i s envi si oned as a confl agrat i on
none envi sages t ot al cos mi c conf l agr at i on,
1 2 0
as 2 Pet . 3. 12- 13 does. The real
paral l el t hen is bet ween 2 Pet er 3 and St oi c doct r i ne of ekpurosis (confl agra-
t i on) . As Vogt l e has ar gued, t he aut hor of 2 Pet er surel y coul d have known t he
113. Adams, Stars Will Fall From Heaven, p. 62.
114. In 1QH 11.19-20, 31-33, the earth's destruction comes by way of a flood of fire which
corresponds to the Genesis Flood.
115. Adams, Stars Will Fall From Heaven, p. 223.
116. Cf. Jub. 1.29; Rom. 8.21; 2 Cor. 5.17; Rev. 21.1.
117. Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, p. 300.
118. '... hat seine Wahl der Weltbrandvorstellung aber kaum betrachtlich beeinflufit' (V6gtle,
Judasbrief, p. 228).
119. E.g. Deut 33.22; Ps. 97.3; Isa. 30.30; 66.15-16; Ezek. 38.22; Amos 7.4; Zeph. 1.18; Mai.
4.1 ( L X X 3 . 1 9 ) ; 1QH 11.19-36;Sib. Or. 3.80-90; Ant. 1.70;LifeofAdamandEve49-50; Pseudo-
Sophocles, Fragment 2.
120. Adams, Stars Will Fall From Heaven, p. 97.
176 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
St oi c ekpurosis i de a
1 2 1
and t her e is n o r eason t o pr ecl ude t he possi bi l i t y t hat
he coul d have us ed it. But , do t he vast differences bet ween t he wor l d vi ews of
2 Pet er and Roma n St oi ci sm (di fferences t hat Ad a ms ' r ecogni zes) speak agai nst
such a di rect bor r owi ng? Vogt l e ar gues t hat t he St oi c i dea of t he cycl i cal anni -
hi l at i on of t he wor l d by fire and t he r esur gence of exactly the same world
122
set s
it apar t from t he cos mi c confl agrat i on envi si oned by 2 Pet er, a confl agrat i on
t hat i s uni que (it does not r epeat or ' cycl e' ) and resul t s i n final j udgement and
vi ndi cat i on.
1 2 3
Ad a ms has poi nt ed out , t hough, t hat t he St oi c vi ew of cos mi c
dest r uct i on and r enewal wa s vi ewed as a ki nd of katharsis, a ref reshi ng by
t he cr eat or g od.
1 2 4
Never t hel ess, t he St oi c doct r i ne of ' ever l ast i ng r ecur r ence'
al so i ncl udes t he i dea t hat ' ever y ma n and wo ma n are bor n agai n in t he next
wor l d- cycl e and r epeat t hei r l i ves exact l y' ,
1 2 5
and as such s eems difficult t o
r econci l e wi t h 2 Pet er ' s vi ew ( consi st ent wi t h J ewi s h and Chri st i an eschat ol -
ogy) t hat cos mi c dest r uct i on is a final j udgement whi ch br i ngs about the final
r enewal of t he cos mos ' i n whi c h' (ev ols) r i ght eousness dwel l s (SLKaioawr]
raTOLKel) (v. 13). Thus , t he r enewed and final cos mos , ' t he ne w heavens and
ear t h' (v. 13), wi l l be a ne w wor l d i n whi ch t he godl y wh o have been vi ndi cat ed
on t he ' Da y of t he Lor d' (v. 12) wi l l do r i ght eousness, t hat i s, t he wi l l of Go d .
1 2 6
Never t hel ess, t hese di fferences wi t h St oi c t hought do not r ul e out t he possi bi l i t y
t hat t he wr i t er empl oyed aspect s of St oi c cos mol ogy i n or der t o bet t er connect
wi t h hi s l argel y Hel l eni st i c- Chri st i an r eader s, j us t as he us ed t he concept ' Tar-
t ar us ' t o cont ext ual i ze Jewi sh- Chr i st i an cont ent i n 2. 4. However , I woul d still
mai nt ai n wi t h Ba uc kha m and par t i cul ar l y Vogt l e t hat al t hough 2 Pet er ' s cos mi c
confl agrat i on i s qui t e uni que i n its f ormul at i on, t he OT and J ewi s h t r adi t i ons
1 2 7
pr ovi de t he r udi ment ar y el ement s t hat coul d have been ' pul l ed t oget her ' t o
const ruct 2 Pet er ' s final j udgement as a cosmi c-fi ery des t r uct i on.
1 2 8
In t he end, t he pr i mar y poi nt of 2 Pet er i s cl ear: t he deni al of t he par ousi a i s
by defi ni t i on a deni al of eschat ol ogi cal j udgement for pr esent behavi our. 2 Pet er
i nsi st s t hat God has and wi l l agai n dest r oy t he ungodl y and t he cos mos al ong
wi t h t hem. The dest ruct i on i s t ot al ; no one can possi bl y escape. 2 Pet er dr aws
pr i mar i l y upon hi s J ewi s h and Chri st i an t radi t i ons i n hi s pol emi c agai nst t he
121. V6gfle,Judasbrief, p. 228.
122. Cf. Adams, Stars Will Fall From Heaven, pp. 118-20.
123. V6gt\Q,Judasbrief, p. 22S.
124. Adams, Stars Will Fall From Heaven, p. 121.
125. Ibid.
126. Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, p. 326.
127. See particularly 1QH 11.34-35; God's fiery judgement has cosmic effects and incorporates
aspects of the Flood tradition, as does 2 Peter. See also the late first-century Jewish text known
as the Life of Adam and Eve, which reveals the punishment upon the race of Adam and Eve as
a 'judgement, first by water and then by fire; by these two the Lord will judge the whole human
race' (cf. Pseudo-Sophocles, Frag. 2; and the Christian Apoc. Elijah 5 and Asa Isa. 4).
128. V6gt\e,Judasbrief, p. 227.
10. Petrine Literature and Jude 177
false t eacher s. I cannot rul e out t he possi bi l i t y t hat t he aut hor al so, part i cul arl y
i n 3. 7, al l uded t o s ome aspect s of St oi c cos mol ogy i n or der t o communi cat e
wi t h hi s Hel l eni st i c r eader s. But t he cor e of hi s i deas are Jewi sh- Chr i st i an. That
t he focus i s God' s comi ng for j udgement for t he wi cked and not cosmol ogi cal
specul at i on as such s eems clear. God i s not sl ow about hi s ' pr omi s e' ( 3. 9) , t hat
i s, t he ' pr omi s e of hi s c omi ng' (3. 4). Theref ore, he want s ' you' t o r epent and
escape hi s wr at h ( 3. 9) . In v. 11, t he cos mi c dest ruct i on pr ovi des t he ul t i mat e
mot i vat i on for t he r eader s t o be ' hol y and godl y' (3. 9). In v. 10 t he j udge-
ment aspect of t he ' day of t he Lor d' wi l l surel y resul t in t he dest ruct i on of t he
cos mos , but t he ai m appear s t o be t he r eveal i ng or exposi ng (vpe&f\oeTai) of
human ' wor ks ' or ' de e ds ' ( epya) done on t he eart h. ' The p oi n t . . . i s t hat t he
eschat ol ogi cal di ssol ut i on wi l l expos e all t he deeds of huma n bei ngs t o di vi ne
s cr ut i ny' .
1 2 9
The readers ' wai t f or ' t he parousi a and t he ' Day of t he Lor d' (3. 12),
becaus e for t hem t he ' pr omi s e of hi s c omi ng' wi l l me a n a ' ne w heavens and
ear t h' ( 3. 13) , but for t he false t eacher s it wi l l me a n bei ng engul f ed i n t he cos mi c
' bur ni ng' ( 3. 12) . It shoul d be qui t e cl ear t hen t hat cos mogony and cosmol ogy,
her e i n 2 Pet er as wel l as 1 Pet er and J ude, serve t he mai n concer ns of t heol ogy
and et hi cal f ormat i on and t ransf ormat i on.
129. Adams, Stars Will Fall From Heaven, p. 228.
11
RE VE L AT I ON : T H E C L I MA X OF C O S MO L O G Y
S e a n M. Mc D o n o u g h
If Revel at i on i s, t o quot e t he t i t l e of Ri char d Ba uc kha m' s book, ' t he cl i max of
pr ophecy' , it ma y equal l y be cal l ed ' t he cl i max of cos mol ogy' .
1
J ohn' s pi ct ur e
of t he achi evement of God' s ki ngdom is pai nt ed on t he canvas of t he cos mos ,
and t he cr eat ed or der i s i nt i mat el y i nvol ved in ever y phas e of t he book. We can
offer her e onl y a br i ef over vi ew of what coul d be an exponent i al l y l engt hi er
exposi t i on.
2
Generic Considerations
Recogni zi ng t he vi si onar y nat ur e of t he Apocal yps e i s essent i al for speaki ng
accur at el y about t he book' s cosmol ogy. We l earn ver y little from Revel at i on
about J ohn' s vi ew of t he ' act ual ' st ruct ure or wor ki ng of t he cos mos : t he weal t h
of cosmol ogi cal i mager y can onl y be spent wi t hi n t he bor der s of t he vi si on. We
can no mor e deduce J ohn' s vi ew of t he physi cal uni ver s e from, e. g. , t he ascent
1. R. Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1993).
2. A careful book-length treatise on the subject is still a desideratum. Paul Minear's brief
but seminal essay 'The Cosmology of the Apocalypse' is the best introduction to the subject (in
W. Klassen and G. F. Snyder [eds], Current Issues in New Testament Interpretation [London:
SCM, 1962], pp. 23-37). The few books devoted exclusively to Revelation's cosmology tend
to shunt all else aside in search of purported astronomical references. The most notable is Bruce
Malina's On the Genre of the Book of Revelation (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1995), which in its
efforts to read Revelation as 'astral prophecy' dismisses out of hand virtually all prior scholarship
on Revelation (the most significant precursor to Malina's own approach, F. Boll's Aus Der Offen-
barung Johannis (Leipzig: Teubner, 1914), is remarkably not even mentioned). The magisterial
recent commentaries of Aune (Revelation [WBC 52a-c; Dallas: Word, 1997-1998]); and Beale
(The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text [NIGNTC, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,
1999]) contain much relevant information, while G. B. Caird's A Commentary on the Revelation
of St. John the Divine (London: A&C Black, 1966) remains the best short commentary on the
book. Among other works, significant attention is given to Revelation in A. Y. Collins' Cosmology
and Eschatology in Jewish and Christian Apocalypyticism (Leiden: Brill, 1996); and there are
numerous cosmological insights in S. Friesen's Imperial Cults and the Apocalypse of John -
Reading Revelation in the Ruins (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001, esp. pp. 152 66).
11. Revelation 179
vi si on of Revel at i on 4 t han we can deduce t he phys i ognomy of t he Roma n
Emper or from t he descr i pt i on of t he Beas t i n Rev. 13. 2- 3. We shoul d not even
expect absol ut e consi st ency wi t hi n t he i magi ned cos mos of t he Apocal yps e.
Vi si ons ar e not coi nci dent al l y l i nked i n t he bi bl i cal l i t erat ure wi t h dr eams , and
dr eam- l ogi c i s pr eci sel y what we exper i ence i n r eadi ng Revel at i on. The usual
boundar i es of t i me and space are fractured; di sl ocat i on abounds . Heaven wi l l
be above, and eart h bel ow, but beyond t hat not hi ng is nai l ed down - and even
t hi s basi c separ at i on of heaven and eart h wi l l be subj ect t o r evi si on by t he end
of t he book. J ohn does not need t o account for t he pr eci se l ocat i on of t he abys s ,
nor t o expl ai n whet her t he l ake of fire can be sai d t o have any ' l ocat i on' at al l .
3
Cons t ant awar enes s t hat Revel at i on is a vi si on i s l i kewi se essent i al for
maki ng pr oper us e of put at i ve sour ce mat er i al . Myt hol ogi cal mat er i al of
var i ed pr ovenance ma y appear i n Revel at i on, but it does not fol l ow t hat J ohn
has t her eby adopt ed any gi ven cos mol ogy in toto. Vari ous pagan and bi bl i cal
ast r onomi cal mot i f s, for i nst ance, appear t o have cont r i but ed t o t he st ory of t he
woma n and t he dr agon in Revel at i on 12: Zeus and Typhoeus; Isi s, Osi ri s, and
Set h; Apol l o and Typhon; and t he book of Dani el all ma y have pl ayed a part i n
shapi ng t he chapt er. Thi s ma y t el l us a great deal about what sort of mat er i al
J ohn felt wa s appr opr i at e for communi cat i ng t he Chr i st i an mes s age, but it t el l s
us little about J ohn' s vi ew of pagan ( or bi bl i cal ) cos mol ogy as such.
The fact t hat J ohn does not di rect l y descr i be t he vi si bl e uni ver se, however ,
i s n o i ndi cat i on t hat he t hi nks it unwor t hy of concer n. J ohn has a ver y st r ong
t heol ogy of cr eat i on, as wi t nes s ed by t he accl ai m of t he l i vi ng creat ures i n 4. 11,
' You are wor t hy, our Lor d and God, t o r ecei ve gl or y and honour and power ,
becaus e you cr eat ed all t hi ngs and by your wi l l t hey wer e and wer e cr eat ed' ;
and t he cont ent of t he ' good n e ws ' of 14. 7, ' Fear God and gi ve hi m gl ory,
becaus e t he hour of hi s j udgement has come, and wor s hi p hi m wh o ma de t he
heaven and t he eart h and t he sea and t he spri ngs of wa t e r ' .
4
The pr esent cos mos
is i n t he t hr oes of t he de- cr eat i on,
5
but it is never meant t o be t aken as a me r e
i l l usi on. ( Thi s st ands i n cont rast t o t he Beast , whos e essent i al not hi ngness is
poi nt edl y ma de i n t he desi gnat i on ' t he one wh o wa s and is not and i s about t o
c ome up out of t he abyss and goes a wa y t o dest r uct i on' [ 17. 8] ) .
6
The reci pi ent s
of t he mes s ages t o t he chur ches l i ved in na me d ci t i es and mus t wr est l e wi t h
concr et e soci al and pol i t i cal real i t i es.
Fur t her mor e, despi t e obvi ous di scont i nui t i es, t he first heaven and first eart h
shar e a meani ngf ul connect i on wi t h t he ne w heavens and ne w eart h. The Ne w
3. Friesen, Imperial Cults, p. 157.
4. Cf. also the rainbow around the throne, a symbol of God's faithfulness to the creation. See
Bauckham, The Theology of the Book of Revelation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1993), pp. 51-3; cf. also Sean McDonough, 'Of Beasts and Bees: The View of the Natural World
in Virgil's Georgics and John's Apocalypse'. NTS 46 (April 2000), 227-44.
5. See J. Ellul, Apocalypse (trans. G. W. Schreiner; New York: Seabury, 1977), p. 51.
6. See McDonough, YHWH at Patmos (Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1999), pp. 227-9.
180 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
Jer usal em obvi ousl y shar es t he name, and t hus t o s ome ext ent t he i dent i t y, of
t he eart hl y ci t y Jer usal em. Whi l e t he Ne w Jer usal em ma y in s ome ways serve
as t he ar chet ype of t he eart hl y city, t he narrat i ve i t sel f suggest s t hat t he ci t y
comi ng down from heaven r epr esent s r at her t he eschat ol ogi cal dest i ny of t he
ol d Jer usal em. Thi s is conf i rmed by t he pi l gr i mage of t he ki ngs of t he eart h
i nt o t he hol y ci t y i n 21. 24. The i mager y does not suggest a vert i cal ascent t o a
pl at oni c ur ban i deal ; it is i nst ead t he end of t he hi st ori cal j our ney t o Jer usal em
as it was meant t o be, and has finally become. Wi t hi n t he city, we find el ement s
of t he Gar den of Eden, not abl y t he Ri ver and t he Tr ee of Li fe. Wher ever t hey
have gone i n t he meanwhi l e (cf. 1 Enoch 2425; Jubilees 4. 23) , or however
God has hi dden t hem from huma n per cept i on, t hey are her e agai n t o cons um-
mat e t he bl essi ng of God t hr ough hi s creat i on t o hi s peopl e.
J ohn does , t hen, ' dr eam a wor l d' , but it r emai ns a dr eam of our wor l d. Thi s
bal ance mus t be kept t hr oughout our di scussi on.
The Cosmological Stage
Heaven pl ays a cruci al dual r ol e in t he Apocal yps e, si gni fyi ng bot h t he vi si bl e
sky, and t he uns een pl ace of God' s t hr one. At t i mes it ma y be difficult t o di st i n-
gui sh bet ween t hese t wo nuances of oupavog.
As t he vi si bl e sky, oi i pavoc; is t he sour ce of var i ous met eor ol ogi cal phe-
nomena ( hai l st ones, fire, et c. ), mos t of whi ch pr es age t he doom of i dol at rous
ear t h- dwel l er s. Thi s of cour se i nvi t es compar i s on wi t h numer ous bi bl i cal and
ext ra-bi bl i cal account s, mos t not abl y t he pl agues on Egypt . A door can appear
in it, gi vi ng access t o God' s t hr one r oom.
7
I n t hi s sense oupavoc; is par t of
t he compl ex of sky, eart h, sea, and under- eart h, and l i ke t hem it i s subj ect t o
r emoval and/ or r enewal ( 6. 14; 20. 11; 21. 1) .
8
It ma y al so be seen as a ki nd of
vei l separat i ng t he eart h from t he t hr one r oom of God. Thus whe n t he sky is pi c-
t ured as rol l i ng back l i ke a scrol l on t he day of God' s wr at h ( 6. 14) , t hi s speaks
not onl y t o cos mi c di ssol ut i on, but t o t he unvei l i ng of t he maj est y of God t o t he
creat i on. I n ch. 12, meanwhi l e, t he st arry sky becomes a l i vi ng i l l ust rat i on of
t he conflict of Sat an and t he peopl e of God: t he sun- cl ad wo ma n cr owned wi t h
t wel ve st ars i s pur s ued by t he fiery dr agon unt i l hi s fall from heaven.
9
7. This assumes the more common understanding of 4.1 as referring to some sort of doorway
offering entry through the sky, as opposed to a doorway above the heavenly dome leading into the
heavenly temple.
8. We may also distinguish the ohpavoQ from the |ieooupai>Tflia mentioned in 8.13, 14.6,
and 19.17. The [ieoovpdvrpa in 8.13 and 14.6 may refer to the zenith of the sun's orbit, and thus
the apex of the celestial dome, rather than the middle region between heaven and earth. But in
19.17 it clearly means this middle region, as in English idiom 'the birds in the sky'.
9. In keeping with the OT focus on Revelation, I would take the stars to represent Israel,
but it is not out of the question they represent the Zodiac, as Yarbro Collins (Cosmology and
Eschatology, p. 130) suggests: 'For the author of Revelation, [the woman] is the heavenly Israel
whose destiny foreshadows that of the followers of Jesus, her "seed"'.
11. Revelation 181
Thi s l eads us nat ural l y t o t he s econd sense of heaven i n Revel at i on, t he pl ace
of God' s t hr one (e. g. 8. 1; 16. 11; 21. 2) . I n keepi ng wi t h a ' nai ve' vi ew of t he
cos mos as a mas s i ve dome of s us pended wat er or i ce, God' s t hr one r oom is por -
t r ayed as l yi ng on t op of t hi s dome i n what Pl at o woul d cal l t he ui Tepoupavi oc;
but whi ch t he NT is cont ent t o cal l si mpl y oi>pat>6<;.
10
Thus t he ' r o o f of t he
vi si bl e wor l d qui t e st rai ght forwardl y f or ms t he ' f l oor ' of t he heavenl y t hr one
r oom. Hence t he descr i pt i on in 4. 6: d>Q Qahtooa vakivr) o p o i a Kpi xj i aAAt o.
1 1
The mos t not abl e feat ure of heaven in Revel at i on is God' s t hr one and t he wor -
shi ppers at t endi ng upon it. Ther e is no supposi t i on of a mul t i - l ayer ed heaven
such as we meet wi t h i n s ome cont empor ar y J ewi s h l i t erat ure: pr es umabl y once
one goes t hr ough t he sky- door, one is i n t he t hr one r oom.
1 2
The t heol ogi cal si gni fi cance of heaven in t he Apocal yps e i s pr of ound. Fr om
heaven, one has a l i t eral l y over - ar chi ng vi ew of t he whol e uni ver se. J ohn i s abl e
t o speak aut hori t at i vel y about t he wor l d and its hi st ory becaus e he has been
pr i vi l eged t o shar e in t he t r anscendent per spect i ve of God hi msel f. Thus whi l e
God is ' t he one wh o is and wh o wa s and wh o i s t o c ome ' ( 1. 4) , J ohn is t o wr i t e
' what you have seen, and what t hey are, and what mus t t ake pl ace after t hese
t hi ngs ' ( 1. 19) . What ever t he exact meani ng of t he l at t er phr as e ma y be, t he
t hree-fol d t i me f or mul a is cl earl y meant t o dr aw a paral l el bet ween t he s cope of
God' s bei ng and t he scope of J ohn' s mes s age.
1 3
As t he pl ace of God' s t hrone, heaven al so represent s t he det ermi nat i ve pl an
and power of t he Al mi ght y.
1 4
Voices from heaven, whet her di vi ne or angel i c,
10. This is the view presupposed in the vision of Ezekiel 1, where God in the glory cloud is
seen as enthroned above a miniature cosmos, replete with a SPjjn or 'firmament' (Ezek. 1.22, cf.
Genesis 1).
11. The word KpuoraXAxx; can mean ice, which might help John explain why the firmament
is firm, and why the heavenly throne room does not just come crashing down to earth. On the
other hand, he may intend some vaguer sense of 'crystallized water-like substance', evoking the
ultimate source of rain in 'the waters above', and providing a counterpart to the boundary waters
of the Reed Sea and the Jordan (see below on 21.2). As always, John may not have felt the need
for absolute or even proximate consistency here.
12. It is even questionable whether the levels of heaven in other literature constitute different
layers within the invisible heaven as the dwelling place of God. It seems more likely that the
levels refer to the regions of the visible cosmos which need to be traversed before reaching the
throne of God. Thus 'seven heavens' could refer to the ascent through the levels of the seven
planets, whereas in a system focused on the Sun and Moon, one could speak of three heavens. For
detailed discussions see ch. 2 of Yarbro Collins' Cosmology andEschatology, and R. G. Edmonds
III, 'The Faces of the Moon: Cosmology, Genesis, and the Mithras Liturgy' in R. S. Boustan and
A. Y. Reed (eds), Heavenly Realms and Earthly Realities in Late Antique Religions (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2004).
13. Cf. L. L. Thompson, The Book of Revelation: Apocalypse and Empire (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1990), p. 84.
14. Cf. Minear, 'Cosmology', p. 32: 'The phrase "from God" would seem to underscore the
ontological ultimacy of this heaven'.
182 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
cannot be gai nsai d ( 8. 13; 10. 4; 11. 12; 12. 10). Act i vi t y spri ngi ng from heaven
cannot be r ever sed (11. 19; 21. 2). Whi l e t here are i ndi cat i ons i n 12. 7-12 of pri -
mor di al st ruggl es in heaven, and of t he erst whi l e pr esence of Sat an as accuser
in t he heavenl y cour t r oom, for t he mos t part heaven serves as t he pl ace, as in
t he Lor d' s Prayer, wher e God' s wi l l i s done. It is her e t hat t he l i vi ng creat ures,
represent i ng t he ani mat e creat i on of God, ceasel essl y wor shi p before hi s t hrone.
They are j oi ned i n t hei r prai se by t he t went y-four el ders, wh o appear t o be i deal -
i zed human or angel i c represent at i ves of t he t wel ve t ri bes of Israel and t he t wel ve
Apost l es of t he La mb (t hus t he saints of t he Ol d and Ne w Covenant s ) .
1 5
But t he i nexor abl e pur pos e of God is not wor ked out i n i sol at i on from peopl e
and event s on eart h. The mos t not abl e exampl e of t hi s i s t he ent hr onement of
t he La mb i n heaven. As El l ul not es, J es us ' r ecept i on of t he ki ngdom is bas ed on
hi s wor k on earth: ' The t errest ri al event pr ovokes t he cel est i al e ve nt . . . What
happens i n t he di vi ne wor l d is defi ned, det er mi ned, pr ovoked by t he vent ur e of
Jesus upon t he e a r t h' .
1 6
The br i ef nar r at i ve of 8.3-5 i l l ust rat es t he cruci al r ol e
of t he pr ayer s of t he eart hl y sai nt s i n t he achi evement of heavenl y pur pos es :
t he angel i c offeri ng of huma n pr ayer s pr eci pi t at es t he fiery t r umpet j udgement s
whi ch fol l ow.
God and hi s t hr one r oom, finally, ar e a ki nd of ar chet ype of t he es chat on.
1 7
The l i vi ng creat ures are doi ng what all cr eat i on ought t o be doi ng wer e it not for
t he t ai nt of huma n i ni qui t y. The t hr one r oom can expand i n t i me and space t o
accommodat e t he count l ess mul t i t ude whi ch has c ome out of t he great t ri bul a-
t i on ( 7. 14) , and i ndeed t o i ncl ude all cr eat ed t hi ngs i n heaven and on t he eart h
and under t he eart h and i n t he sea ( 5. 13) .
It can even be sai d t hat heaven pr ovi des t he const i t uent el ement s of t he
Ne w Jer usal em. God' s appear ance is l i ke j as per and car nel i an accor di ng t o 4. 3:
6pao6L A.L0G) l a o i u 5 i Kai oa p 8 i a ) . The onl y ot her appear ance of j as per in t he
NT comes i n Revel at i on 2 1 , wher e t he Ne w Jer usal em shi nes l i ke cryst al l i ne
j as per ( 21. 11) ; j as per is l i kewi se t he mat er i al of t he ci t y' s wal l s, and t he first
l i st ed ador nment of t he f oundat i ons. The mes s age, l i ke t he st one, is t ranspar-
ent : God' s gl ory, hi t her t o rest ri ct ed i n its ful l ness t o t he t hr one r oom, has now
15. See Beale, Revelation, pp. 323-6; contra Collins, Cosmology and Eschatology, pp.
127-30, who suggests they are based on a group of 24 Babylonian astral deities. Aside from the
fact that there are twenty-four of them in a heavenly place, and that they are described as 'judges',
I see little to connect the two groups.
16. Ellul, Apocalypse, pp. 47-8.
17. If this strikes some as 'platonic', this may say as much about Plato's debt to earlier mytho-
logical conceptions as it does about John's debt to Plato (cf. especially Plato's use of myth in the
Phaedrus). John's heaven is not a static realm of ideal concepts, but a living world of worship. It
is superior to the present earth not because of any intrinsic ontological virtue, as in the Platonic
scheme, but rather because unlike the earth, it is suffused with the presence of God. Once the
earth is purged of its resident evil, it is just as 'real' as heaven, and equally fit to serve as the place
of his throne.
11. Revelation 183
per meat ed t he wor l d of humani t y i n accor dance wi t h t he pr ophet i c pr omi s e
( Num. 14. 2; Ha b. 2. 14) .
The eart h has st rong negat i ve associ at i ons t hr ough mos t of Revel at i on.
1 8
For
t he sai nt s, t he eart h is a pl ace of st ruggl e agai nst t he Beast and hi s mi ni ons. The
frequent desi gnat i on of unbel i evers as ' eart h dwel l er s' is poi nt ed: i n cont rast t o
t he sai nt s, t hey have no l ove for t he One who sits ent hr oned in heaven. As wi t h
t he Egypt i ans at t he Exodus, t hey wi l l wat ch i n hor r or as t he wor l d i n whi ch t hey
have put all t hei r trust falls i n rui ns ar ound t hem. Thei r at t empt t o gai n mast er y
over t he eart h cul mi nat es i n t he great count erfei t ci t y Babyl on, t he dead- end street
of t he hi j acked creat i on pr oj ect .
1 9
Yet as we have al ready not ed, t he pr omi se of
a r enewed eart h is not abandoned i n Revel at i on. Aft er t he de-creat i on comes r e-
creat i on, as t he wor l d and t he nat i ons i n it at last r each God' s appoi nt ed goal i n t he
Ne w Jerusal em. Even i n t he present age, part s of t he eart h can be a pl ace of refuge
for t he saints (12. 14). Whe n t he Dr agon pour s a ri ver out of hi s mout h t o dr own
t he Woman, it is t he eart h whi ch swal l ows it up (12. 15-6). As Paul Mi near not es,
t he s ame gr ound whi ch had swal l owed t he bl ood of Abel and cri ed out agai nst
humani t y has n ow become t he chur ch' s hel per .
2 0
The sea is oft en l i nked wi t h eart h as par t of t he r egi ons bel ow heaven, and
t hus t o t hat ext ent r emai ns a good creat i on of God (cf. 5. 13). But it al so has
an i mpor t ant rol e as a s ymbol of pr i mor di al chaos . At one l evel , t he fact t he
Beas t rises from t he sea i n 13. 1 reflects t he real i t y t hat Roma n power came t o
As i a Mi nor as a forei gn powe r from acr oss t he Medi t er r anean. But t he obvi ous
r es onances wi t h t he ni ght mar e vi si on of Dan. 7. 4-6 poi nt deeper t o t he sea as
t he font of radi cal evi l , t he chaos wat er s out of whi ch emer ge t he l eader s of
opposi t i on t o God. Thus t he Beast can equal l y be sai d t o c ome out of t he Abys s
( 11. 7; 17. 8) . The fusi on of t he Sea and t he Abys s wa s i nvi t ed by t he LXX, wher e
f) aPuoooq i s al ways us e d of wat er y pl aces (cf. e. g. Deut . 8. 7; I sa. 51. 10;
Ps . 103. 6) , t hough J ohn i s cl ear l y a wa r e of t he l at er J ewi s h t r adi t i ons whi c h
depi ct t he Abys s as t he pr i s on- hous e of evi l spi ri t s (e. g. 9. 1- 11) .
2 1
The admi t -
18. The earth is said to have four comers (tag teooapac yuv'iaQ iffe yrjC, 7.1, cf. 20.8), but
this tells us no more about John's understanding of the shape of the world than our own colloquial
expression 'from the four corners of the earth*. In the midst of an otherwise extremely helpful
discussion, Friesen (Imperial Cults, p. 155) curiously suggests on the basis of 10.6 (without
exegetical argument) that the 'earth is governed by time'. But Aune (Revelation, p. 567) is surely
correct that on xpovcx; oiMcext eorai should not be rendered 'Time will be no more' but rather
'there will be no more interval of time'; i.e. once the seventh trumpet sounds things will move
straight to their denouement.
19. Note the numerous parallels between the description of Babylon in ch. 17 and of the New
Jerusalem in chs 21-22.
20. Minear,' "Far as the Curse is Found": The Point of Revelation 12.15-16', NovT33 (1991),
71-7 (76).
21. Even this may relate to the flood waters overwhelming the rebellious angels of Genesis 6,
as in 7 Enoch. Note that (J>pap is typically used of wells rather than merely 'shafts' (Rev. 9.2).
184 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
t edl y per pl exi ng di sappear ance of t he Sea i n t he eschat on (Rev. 21. 1) i s t hus
l i kel y an i mage of t he r emoval of al l t hr eat t o humani t y i n t he ne w heavens and
new eart h. It i s a wor l d not onl y after t he flood, l i ke Noah' s , but a wor l d beyond
any t hreat of flood.
22
The r egi ons under t he eart h appear first i n a surpri si ngl y posi t i ve cont ext
in 5. 13: t he uni ver sal wor s hi p of God and t he La mb i ncl udes t hose i nroKat a)
tfjc; yf\Q. Its mor e fami l i ar r ol e as a pl ace of gl oom and menace is pi cked up
in ch. 9, wher e t he demoni c l ocust - warri ors emer ge from t he abyss t o t or ment
t he ear t h- dwel l er s. Whi l e mu c h of t he i mager y her e der i ves from t he pr ophet
Joel , J ohn is no doubt cont ent t o let t he wi despr ead t error of cht honi c spi ri t s
have its full effect on hi s l i st eners i n t he Hel l eni st i c wor l d. Hades is ment i oned
on a few occasi ons, bot h as a na me for t he fourt h hor s eman Deat h ( 5. 8) , and
as t he pl ace of t he dead ( 20. 13, agai n i n conj unct i on wi t h Gavaxoc;). It ma y be
pr es umed t o lie under t he eart h, but t her e is little concer n t o l ocat e it or ponder
its di mens i ons . Wh e n ' deat h and Ha de s ' ar e t hr own i nt o t he l ake of fire ( 21. 14) ,
it is difficult t o kn ow exact l y what we are meant t o envi si on; but t her e i s no
quest i on t hat J ohn want s us t o real i ze t hat t he spect re of deat h no l onger haunt s
t he ne w wor l d.
We are left at last wi t h t he l ake of fire. John has, I bel i eve, carefully st ruct ured
t he j udgement narrat i ve of ch. 20 t o capt ure t he par adox of absol ut e j udgement
and absol ut e r enewal . The familiar vi ew of hel l bei ng under t he eart h can l ead t o
t he very reasonabl e quest i on: how can I enjoy heavenl y bl i ss whi l e my former
friends and rel at i ons are roast i ng bel ow me ? To put it mor e broadl y, how can t he
evi l dead perpet ual l y taint t he r enewed cosmos? J ohn' s answer i s, in brief, t hey
are not ' bel ow' t he eart h at all. I n 20. 11, we r ead t hat ' heaven and eart h fled from
hi s face, and a pl ace was not found for t hem' ( ano t oO iTpoocoiTOU e^uyev f) yf\
Kai 6 oupavog Kai TOIKX; OI>X a>p0r| ai r r oi c) . The mot i f i s dr awn from LXX PS.
113.3,7 and Dan. 2. 35 ( Th) ,
2 3
but John has made t he passi ng away of t he ent i re
cosmos mor e explicit. It is cruci al t o not e t hat j udgement t hus occurs di rect l y
after t he passi ng away of t he first heaven and eart h, and di rect l y before t he i nt ro-
duct i on of t he ne w heavens and eart h in 21. 1 ( Ka i elbov oupa vbv Kai vov Kai
yf\v Kai vrj v. 6 yap np&xoQ oupavoq Kai f) iTpcStri yf\ &uf\kBav). Thi s does not
appear t o be a mer e literary inclusio. We are i nst ead meant t o see t hat t he r epr o-
bat e in t he l ake of fire are forever out si de t he r enewed cos mos ; t hey have, as it
wer e, become et ernal l y irrelevant. They are in a pl ace t hat is No- Pl ace.
2 4
Why smoke (KOCTIVOC;) would come out of a watery prison remains a puzzle (unless steam is in
view?; cf. Acts 2.19; and Odyssey 12.219, where KCtmxx; seems to mean 'sea spray'), but this is
likely an instance where John is content to jump from one conception to another. The water image
may be abandoned in favour of the lingering smoky destruction o e.g., Sodom and Gomorrah.
22. Bauckham, Theology, p. 53.
23. TOITOQ oux eup6r| OLVZOIQ is verbatim from Daniel (Th).
24. Aristotle confronts a similar paradox when he discusses the region above the heavens, see
DeCaelo 279&11-2S.
11. Revelation 185
The Players
Whi l e our focus her e is on t he cos mos , it is necessar y t o offer a ver y br i ef
descri pt i on of t he pl ayer s and t hei r r ol e in t he cos mi c dr ama of t he Apoca-
l yps e.
2 5
God, t he One wh o sits on t he t hr one in heaven, has cr eat ed ever yt hi ng
t hat exi st s, and as Pantokrator ( 1. 8; 4. 8, et c. ) he hol ds cosmi c sover ei gnt y.
2 6
He
exer ci ses t hi s sover ei gnt y t hr ough Jesus, t he La mb wh o shares hi s t hr one. Jesus
bear s t he fiery di vi ne l i keness ( 1. 12- 16) , and in an i mage of uni ver sal l ordshi p,
hol ds t he st ars i n hi s hands . He is hi ms el f t he br i ght Mor ni ng St ar ( 22. 16) . The
di vi ne pr es ence is communi cat ed t o t he chur ch by t he Spi ri t (2. 11 et c. ) .
2 7
Angel s are especi al l y act i ve in Revel at i on as medi at or s bet ween t he eart hl y
and heavenl y r eal ms. They are l i nked wi t h st ars i n 1.20, a vi vi d s ymbol of t hei r
heavenl y s t at us .
2 8
It is an angel who gi ves J ohn t he Revel at i on and gui des hi m
t hr ough heaven. Angel s r epr esent chur ches i n t he heavenl y as s embl y (cf. t he
gr eet i ngs ' t o t he angel of t he chur ch i n . . . ' i n chs 2 and 3) , and pas s t he pr ayer s
of t he sai nt s al ong t o God ( 8. 3) . They are al so agent s of j udgement . Evi l angel s
ar e expl i ci t l y ment i oned i n 12. 7 ( ' Sat an and hi s angel s ' ) , whi l e t he st ar wh o
opens t he abyss i n 9.1 and per haps even t he four angel s of 7. 1 ma y al so be
consi der ed mal evol ent .
2 9
The l i vi ng cr eat ur es bef or e t he t hr one ar e cl ear l y bas ed on t he figures i n
Ezeki el 1 and I sai ah 6. Whi l e t hey ma y have di st ant commonal i t i es wi t h t he
hybr i d guar di ans of Anci ent Near East er n t empl es, t hey are her e excl usi vel y
devot ed t o wor s hi p. Whi l e J ohn pr es umabl y t hought of t hem as di st i nct , ' r eal '
heavenl y cr eat ur es, t hey appear t o symbol i ze t he wor s hi p of God by all ani mat e
creat ures.
25. Recognizing, of course, that the cosmos itself is in some ways itself a 'player' in Revelation
and not merely the stage (a helpful reminder from Jonathan Moo in personal correspondence).
26. For the cosmic use of related terms see, e.g., Cleanthes, Hymn to Zeus 1.1 (TravKpctT^e);
Orphic Hymns 8.11 (Sun as KoqiOKprfTCop) and 10.4 (Nature as TravroKpavreipa).
27. I take the 'seven spirits before the throne' (1.4 TCOV errm weupaTCOV a kvumiov TOO
OpovoD auxou) to be a reference to the manifold work of the Spirit in the world (and particularly
to the church, represented by the seven churches of Asia Minor), rather than to seven angels. The
expression is unusual, but so is much in Revelation, and the idea that this refers to the Holy Spirit
is strongly suggested by the tri-partite form of the greeting in 1.4-5 and the repeated mention of
the Spirit in chs. 2-3.
28. Much ancient mythology of course likely begins as a reading of the sky, under the assump-
tion that the stars are divine beings. But association in Revelation is not identification. Aside from
the star who opens the abyss in 9.1, angels are not equated with stars.
29. On 7.1 (cf. 6.2-8) as depicting evil angels, see Beale, Revelation, pp. 370-408. In context,
the battle of Michael and his angels versus Satan and hi s angels in ch. 12 appears to represent
the termination of Satan's prosecuting role in the heavenly courtroom. But it is possible the motif
could be drawn from an earlier source in which there was a primordial, Milton-esque expulsion
of rebel angels from heaven.
1 8 6 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
The Sai nt s are por t r ayed ( wi t h heavy debt s t o Exodus and Dani el ) as t hose
who dwel l i n t he s hadow of t he Beast and mus t resi st t he t wi n evi l s of per se-
cut i on and seduct i on as t hey awai t God' s del i ver ance. I n t he vi si on t hey are
frequently vi ewed i n heaven, si nce t hei r l oyal t y lies t her e, and t hey are bound
t o dwel l i n t he pr es ence of God f or ever .
3 0
The opposi t i on t o God i s l ed by t he Sat ani c t ri ni t y: t he Dr agon, t he Beast ,
and t he Fal se Pr ophet . The Dr agon, t he bl as phemous i mi t at i on of t he Fat her,
appears i n t he heavens wi t h cr owns on hi s heads ( 12. 3) , and s weeps a t hi rd of
t he st ars t o eart h. Bas ed on t he paral l el s wi t h Dani el 8, t hi s pr obabl y refers not
t o any angel i c fall, but r at her t o t he deat h or apost asy of sai nt s i n Ol d Test ament
t i mes, bef ore t he advent of t he Chi l d.
3 1
The Dr agon, however , i s cast down t o eart h, and mus t pr osecut e hi s war
agai nst t he wo ma n by ot her me a n s .
3 2
He cal l s forth out of t he chaos wat er s hi s
woul d- be Mes s i ah, t he Beast . Thi s i s not si mpl y t he Roma n Emper or tout court,
but r at her t he Roma n Emper or as t he embodi ment of r ecur r ent evi l ; any gi ven
rul er is si mpl y t he per i odi c spr i ng f l owi ng from an under gr ound ri ver of mal i ce
(cf. 11. 7, ' t he Beast wh o comes u p out of t he abys s ' ) . He has hi s false r esur r ec-
t i on ( 13. 3) and hi s false par ousi a ( 17. 8) but he i s dest i ned for dest ruct i on. Hi s
30. The saints are also likely in view in 13.6, where the Beast blasphemes God's 'tent, the
ones who tent in heaven' (TT)V OKX\VT\V auioO, TOIX; kv TC5 oupavcp OKTIVOOVTOK;). The 144,000
(whom I take to be a symbol of the church, and equivalent to the countless multitude in ch. 7, cf.
Bauckham, Climax of Prophecy, pp. 215-29) appear on Mount Zion in 14.1. This Zion is difficult
to chart cosmologically. It could refer to the heavenly Zion in parallel to Hebrews 12.22. This
would be supported by the note in 14.2-3 that John heard a voice 'from heaven' and that 'they'
(presumably the 144,000) sang a new song before the throne. But the prophetic background of
Joel 3.5 and Isa. 4.5 (cf. 4 Ezra 13.33-36) suggests this may be a proleptic view of the end-times
deliverance of the earthly Zion (not necessarily the literal deliverance of Jerusalem, but presum-
ably a picture of the salvation of the church on earth in the manner of 20.9-10). In this view, the
earthly saints would only be learning the heavenly song, not themselves singing it before the
throne. It is almost impossible to choose between the two. See Aune, Revelation, pp. 803-9.
31. Dan. 8.10, 'and it [= the little horn] grew up towards the hosts of heaven, and it threw to
earth some of the host and some of the stars and trampled them'. This is interpreted in Dan. 8.24,
'and he will destroy mighty ones and the holy people'. It is just possible that the host in Dan.
8.10 constitutes the heavenly representatives of the earthly people, but a more straightforward
interpretation in which the host = the people is more likely. In support of this view, at least
with respect to Revelation, note that the verb for 'trample' in Dan. 8.10 (ODI/KaieTTaTTTGr)) is a
cognate to the verb used for the trampling of the holy city (a symbol of the saints) in Rev. 11.2
(TTaTTJOOUOLV).
32. 12.8 notes that there 'was no place found' (oi)6e TOTTO^ eupeOr) auicov) for Satan and his
angels in heaven. The language is from Dan. 2.35, but has clear resonance with the disappearance
of the first heaven and earth in Rev. 20.11 (see discussion above). To the extent that 'the whole
world lies in the power of the evil one' (1 Jn 5.19), Satan's heavenly demise may presage the
removal of the cosmos he has usurped. The narrative of ch. 12 also recalls the taunt over the king
of Babylon in Isaiah 14, which has its roots in astral mythology; cf. esp. w. 13-15 where the astral
elements are especially strong.
11. Revelation 187
wor s hi p is pr omul gat ed by t he second Beast , al so known as t he Fal se Pr ophet , a
mocker y of t he Hol y Spirit (cf. 13. 11-17 and esp. 16. 13-14, wher e t he decept i ve
spi ri t s c ome out of t he mout hs of t he Dr agon, t he Beast , and t he Fal se Pr ophet ) .
We have al r eady di scussed t he ear t h- dwel l er s wh o are s educed by t he Sat ani c
t ri ni t y: t hey ar e t hose wh o fall for t he decept i on of Sat an, and end u p maki ng
t he bl as phemous accl amat i on, ' Wh o is l i ke t he Beast , and who can wa r agai nst
h i m? ' (13. 41 cf. Exod. 15. 11; Ps . 89. 7) .
The Drama
The dr ama of t he Apocal yps e ma y be profi t abl y vi ewed t hr ough t he l ens of t he
cos mos . The cos mos and al l t hat i s i n it wa s cr eat ed good by al mi ght y God, and
it exi st s t o reflect hi s gl ory. The cr own of cr eat i on is humani t y, and t he cr own
of humani t y is t he Mes s i ah, t he r i sen La mb of God. Thos e wh o r emai n faithful
wi l l shar e i n hi s ki ngdom and glory.
The cos mos , however , has be c ome corrupt ed. The heavenl y cour t r oom itself
has been subj ect t o t he i ncur si ons of an accusi ng enemy, t he Ser pent of ol d.
n ow seen i n t he gui se of a fiery Dr agon. The r edeemi ng wor k of Chr i st ( put i nt o
pr act i ce b y t he cel est i al bai l i ff Mi chael ) has cl eansed heaven of t hat scour ge,
and t hr own down t he devi l and hi s angel s, such t hat God' s t hr one r oom is char-
act er i zed by ceasel ess wor s hi p and pr ai se. Even so, t he cri es of a desper at e
ear t h are hear d in heaven, as t he mar t yr s bel ow t he t hr one cr y out , ' Ho w l ong,
O Lor d, hol y and t r ue, bef or e you j udge and avenge our bl ood from t hose wh o
dwel l on t he ear t h?' ( 6. 10) .
The eart h, whi ch has al r eady l abour ed under numer ous i dol at rous t yr ant s, is
n ow subj ect t o t he full fury of t he Dr agon. Hi s wr at h is di rect ed pr i mar i l y agai nst
t he chur ch, ' t he Woma n and her of f spri ng' , but t he wa r wa ge d by hi s agent s t he
Beast s has devast at i ng cons equences for t he creat i on itself. God' s peopl e cry
out t o hi m for del i ver ance, and as at t he first Exodus , so i n t hi s gr eat eschat o-
l ogi cal Exodus he ans wer s by syst emat i cal l y di smant l i ng t he cos mos whi ch t he
Dr agon is t ryi ng t o us ur p. The beaut i ful or der of Genesi s di si nt egrat es; t hi ngs
fall apart , t he cent r e cannot hol d. A bi bl i cal l y l i t erat e audi t or of t he Apocal yps e
woul d appreci at e t he pat ent al l usi ons t o t he pl agues upon Egypt ; but any pagan
l i st ener coul d easi l y i dent i fy t he hai l st ones and bl oody wat er s and t he rest as
si gns of di vi ne wr at h.
3 3
The nat ur al wor l d has been t r ansf or med from l i vi ng-
r oom t o t ort ure chamber .
As t hi ngs spi ral back t owar ds pr i mal chaos , nei t her t he cr eat ed or der nor
t he monume nt s of h u ma n ci vi l i zat i on offer any refuge. Ther e i s, as t he spi ri t ual
says, no hi di ng pl ace down her e. The st ars fall ( 6. 13) , t he mount ai ns and i sl ands
ar e r emoved from t hei r pl aces ( 6. 14) . The sky, whi ch had ser ved t o shel t er
humani t y from t he l oomi ng wr at h of God and t he La mb, i s r ol l ed back l i ke a
33. Cf., e.g., Virgil's Georgian 1.471-80; 3.541-58.
188 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
scrol l , l eavi ng t he wor l d naked bef ore t he di vi ne j udgement . The ' l i ght ni ngs
and sounds and t hunder s ' t hat go forth from t he t hr one of God (4. 5) br eak forth
upon t he eart h, and t he eschat ol ogi cal ear t hquake r emoves t he f oundat i on of
i dol at rous humani t y ( 16. 18- 21) . The great ci t y falls under t he wr at h of God
( 16. 19) . At l ast , heaven and eart h i t sel f flee from hi s pr es ence ( 20. 11) .
But God, wh o i n t he begi nni ng sai d, ' Let it b e . . . ' , n ow decl ar es, ' Behol d,
I a m maki ng all t hi ngs n e w' ( 21. 5) . The cent r epi ece of t he n e w creat i on i s t he
Ne w Jer usal em, whi ch evokes at once God' s peopl e, God' s pl ace and God' s
pr es ence.
3 4
At one l evel , t he ci t y r epr esent s God' s peopl e, as i s i ndi cat ed by t he
descri pt i on of t he ci t y as a ' br i de' ( 21. 2) , coupl ed wi t h its gat es and f oundat i ons
bei ng named for t he t wel ve t ri bes of Israel and t he t wel ve apost l es of t he La mb
( 21. 12- 14) . But it is equal l y God' s pl ace, t he Gar den Ci t y wher e Nat ur e and
Cul t ur e at last meet i n har mony. The mas s i ve di mens i ons of t he ci t y ma y i ndeed
suggest t hat it is not mer el y a part of t he new creat i on, it i s i t sel f t he r enewed
c os mos .
3 5
But t he Ne w Jer usal em is not God' s pl ace mer el y by vi rt ue of its si ze, or by
a fort ui t ous conver gence of a f avourabl e cl i mat e and wel l - di sposed ci t i zens:
t he Ne w Jer usal em is what it i s becaus e it is suffused wi t h God' s pr esence. The
spat i al boundar i es whi ch had separ at ed God and hi s peopl e have been r emoved.
God' s t hr one is n ow on eart h. The mar r i age of t he La mb and hi s Br i de, t he
mar r i age of heaven and eart h, has c ome t o pas s .
Conclusion
The cosmos, t hen, pl ays a number of i ndi spensabl e rol es in t he vi si ons of Rev-
elation. As t he handi wor k of God, it bears t he st amp of hi s gl ory and becomes
t he basi s for creat urel y prai se. But l i ke a st or y- book mans i on, it is a pl ace of
many r ooms , not all of t hem i nvi t i ng: t here is a heavenl y t hr one- r oom above,
but t he abyss and t he pat hl ess sea l urk bel ow. It can become a pl ace of terror,
as t he Dr agon' s fall and huma n i dol at ry t ri gger a spi ral back t owar ds pr i mal
chaos. Yet i n t he end, j us t as huma n pl oughshar es are beat en i nt o s wor ds , so
t he cos mos i t sel f wi l l r each its appoi nt ed pl ace of rest and peace, and become
a pl ace of nur t ur e: a ri ver r unni ng t hr ough it, and t he t ree of life wi t h its l eaves
for t he heal i ng of t he nat i ons; God its l i ght , its l amp t he La mb.
34. See Bauckham, Theology, pp. 132^3.
35. Yarbro Collins, following suggestions by Charles and others, believes that part of the
depiction of the New Jerusalem as cosmic city consists in the connection of its foundation stones
with the zodiac {Cosmology and Eschatology, pp. 131-4). The evidence of such a connection is
not entirely secure, and I am more inclined to see the basis in the twelve stones on the breastplate
of the High Priest (see Caird, Revelation, pp. 274-5). The breastplate in its turn may well have had
some astronomical connotations; but I do not believe these can be assumed for John. For the New
Jerusalem as cosmic temple, see above all Beale, The Temple and the Church's Mission: A Biblical
Theology of the Dwelling Place of God (Downer's Grove: Apollos/Intervarsity Press, 2004).
12
C O N C L U S I O N
S e a n M. Mc D o n o u g h a n d J o n a t h a n T. P e n n i n g t o n
What , t hen, have we l earned from our t our of t he Ne w Test ament cos mos ? We
ma y begi n wi t h t he negat i ve resul t s. The det ai l ed cos mi c t empl at e bel oved of
t heori st s and i l l ust rat ors r emai ns el usi ve. Apar t from a t endency t o descr i be t he
cos mos i n t er ms of ' heaven and ear t h' ( wi t h t he occasi onal addi t i on of ' t he s ea'
or ' under t he ear t h' ) , t he Ne w Test ament t ext s do not offer enough i nf orma-
t i on t o r econst r uct a uni f or m ' ear l y Chri st i an vi e w' of t he physi cal uni ver se. I n
schol ar l y t er ms , t hi s means t hat it is unl i kel y t her e is a Roset t a St one wai t i ng t o
be f ound whi ch mi ght unl ock t he secret s of Ne w Test ament cosmol ogy. At t he
popul ar l evel , t he Ne w Test ament cannot be us ed t o pr ovi de a gui de t o moder n
ast r ophysi cs, but nei t her can it be assai l ed for hol di ng forth an ant i quat ed,
' unsci ent i f i c' vi ew of real i t y.
The r et i cence of t he t ext s t hemsel ves coul d be managed, of cour s e, i f t hey
s howed cl ear al l egi ance t o s ome wel l - known cosmol ogi cal s chema. But whi l e
t here are i nt i mat i ons t hat t he wri t ers wer e i n t ouch wi t h t he i nt el l ect ual current s
ar ound t hem, t her e is not hi ng t o i ndi cat e t hat any gi ven aut hor adopt ed such a
syst em in toto. We ma y as s ume t hat t hey woul d have concept ual i zed t he wor l d
on t he basi s of ever yday obser vat i on: t he sun and st ars move t hr ough t he sky,
t he sky i s l i ke a great dome, and so on. But t hese obser vat i ons never commi t t o
anyt hi ng beyond t he or di nar y huma n exper i ence of t he wor l d; t her e is n o chapt er
and ver se ci t at i on whi ch demands t o be r ead agai nst Gal i l eo or Coper ni cus . ' He
causes t he sun t o rise on t he evi l and t he good' ( Mt . 5. 45) i s not a di squi si t i on on
cel est i al mechani cs . The Ol d Test ament can be as s umed as gener al l y aut hori t a-
t i ve for t he NT wr i t er s, and it surel y had a pr of ound effect on t hei r theological
assessment of t he cr eat ed order. But t here is n o demonst r abl e commi t ment t o a
real or i magi ned Ol d Test ament bl uepr i nt of physi cal reality. Revel at i on comes
cl osest t o t r acki ng Ol d Test ament concept i ons of t he heavenl y r eal m, but t hi s
is about as far as possi bl e from st rai ght forward scientific descri pt i on. Ear l y
J udai s m l i kewi se shaped t he t heol ogy of t he Ne w Test ament wr i t er s wi t hout
l eavi ng cl ear t races on t hei r cos mol ogy per se. Paul ' s crypt i c ment i on of t he
' t hi r d heaven' i n 2 Cor. 12. 2 s eems t o be i ndebt ed t o earl y J ewi s h specul at i on,
but pr eci sel y what he meant by t he t er m is still difficult t o det er mi ne.
190 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
The Hel l eni st i c backgr ound i s if anyt hi ng mor e t ant al i zi ng; t he r each con-
t i nual l y exceeds t he gr asp. Ther e i s cert ai nl y no t hor oughgoi ng engagement
wi t h scientific cos mol ogy or cos mogony in our t ext s. The mos t ext ended me di -
t at i on on cos mi c st ruct ures i n t he NT is pr obabl y t he book of Hebr ews , whi ch
is al so gener al l y s een as t he mos t Hel l eni zed book i n t he NT. But t he epi st l e is
cl earl y f ocused on t heol ogi cal concer ns, and what mi ght appear at first bl ush t o
be ' pl at oni c' el ement s t ur n out on cl oser i nspect i on t o be fully consonant wi t h
t radi t i onal J ewi s h and Chr i st i an bel i ef s. The aut hor has l i kel y hi ghl i ght ed t hose
aspect s of t he t radi t i on t hat wer e mos t amenabl e t o refi ned Gr eek sensi bi l i t i es,
but he has not i ni t i at ed t he ki nd of whol es al e mer ger of J udai s m and Hel l eni sm
we see i n, e. g. , Phi l o' s Opificio Mundi. 2 Pet . 2. 4, meanwhi l e, coul d have di st ant
echoes of Hes i od' s Ti t ans i n hi s us e of tartaroo, but we can har dl y deduce from
t hi s t hat Pet er bel i eved Tart arus wa s a t en da ys ' and ni ght s ' anvi l -fal l bel ow
t he eart h (Theogony U. 713ff. ). What ever fusi on t her e ma y have been bet ween
Genesi s 6 and Hes i od t ook pl ace l ong bef ore t he wr i t i ng of 2 Pet er, and Tart arus
in any case appear s as a gener al t er m for t he under wor l d i n, for exampl e, t he
Gr eek t ransl at i on of J ob 40. 20 and 41. 24. Lat er i n t he Epi st l e, t her e is debat e
about t he possi bl e St oi c i nfl uences on t he phr as es concer ni ng cr eat i on ' out of
wat er and t hr ough wa t e r ' ( 3. 5) and t he cos mi c confl agrat i on ( 3. 7, 10-12). But
t he pat ent bi bl i cal associ at i ons of wat er / cr eat i on and fire/judgement ma ke a
' pur e ' St oi c backgr ound unl i kel y. The ext ent of 2 Pet er ' s dependence on St oi c
cosmol ogi cal t heor y r emai ns obscur e.
Ther e i s, t hen, no di scer ni bl e, fixed backgr ound agai nst whi ch t he NT set s
forth t heor i es about t he phys i cal uni ver se. I nst ead, t he t ext s appear t o dr aw
upon a var i et y of r esour ces and i mages t o art i cul at e f undament al l y t heol ogi cal
poi nt s. I f we f ocus on t he t heol ogi cal ori ent at i ons of t he t ext , r eal gr owt h in
under s t andi ng can be ma de . I f t he aut hor s are l oat h t o t el l us what t hey t hi nk of
t he pr ecessi on of t he equi noxes , or t he number of pr i mal el ement s , t hey ar e not
at al l shy about set t i ng t hei r t heol ogi cal concer ns on t he canvas of t he cos mos .
Her e we do find a numbe r of c ommonl y shar ed per spect i ves. As we not ed
above, ' heaven and ear t h' wa s a basi c di vi si on of real i t y, wi t h ' heaven' doi ng
doubl e dut y as t he pl ace of God' s t hr one and t he vi si bl e sky. Typi cal l y, heaven
r epr esent s t he dwel l i ng of God, from whi ch pr oceed hi s di r ect i ves for t he rest
of creat i on: ' Th y ki ngdom come, t hy wi l l be done, on eart h as it is i n heaven'
( Mt . 6. 9). Met eor ol ogi cal phe nome na l i ke hai l and l i ght ni ng can easi l y fuse
i nt o ' he a ve nl y' j udge me nt s i n t he fullest sense of t he t e r m
Ear t h carri es a mu c h mor e ambi val ent r ol e i n t he Ne w Test ament . Whi l e t he
heavenl y pl aces mi ght be t he scene of cos mi c warf are, or on occasi on t he abode
of mal efi cent spi ri t ual forces, ear t h i s so bur dened wi t h huma n i ni qui t y t hat an
adj ect i ve l i ke ' ear t hl y' can fit comf or t abl y al ongsi de ' unspi r i r ual ' and ' de moni c '
i n Jas 3. 15. Wi t h ' ear t h' t hus descr i bed, it is not surpri si ng t hat al l usi ons t o t he
r egi on under t he ear t h are al mos t unr emi t t i ngl y negat i ve ( t he except i ons bei ng
Rev. 5. 12 and per haps Phi l . 2. 10) . Yet t he eart h r emai ns t he pr oduct of God' s
12. Conclusion 191
cr eat i ve hand, and t he obj ect of hi s pr ovi dent i al and r edempt i ve concer n (1 Cor.
10. 26; Act s 1.8; Rev. 21. 1) .
I n al l of t hi s, ' ear t h' bear s r es embl ance t o t he mor e compr ehens i ve t er m
' wor l d' . J ohn i n part i cul ar t ypi cal l y us es ' wor l d' for t he ' wor l d- s ys t em'
i mpl acabl y oppos ed t o God and hi s ways , whi l e for J ames , ' f ri endshi p wi t h
t he wor l d' is t he si gnal t empt at i on for bel i evers ( 4. 4) . I n t he s a me way, Paul
decl ar es t hat t he ' wi s dom of t he wor l d' i s f ool i shness in t he eyes of God (1 Cor.
3. 19). But t he s ame J ohn wh o uses ' wor l d' i n such a consi st ent l y negat i ve wa y
can equal l y decl ar e, ' Go d so l oved t he wor l d t hat he sent hi s onl y begot t en Son,
t hat whoever bel i eves i n hi m mi ght not per i sh but have et ernal l i fe' ( Jn 3. 16).
The Lor d' s Pr ayer poi nt s t o t he fact t hat t he spat i al ' heaven' funct i ons i n an
anal ogous wa y t o t he ul t i mat e fut ure, t he ' day of t he Lor d' i n its var i ous l exi cal
gui ses. Thi s l eads us nat ural l y t o t he fl ow of cosmi c hi st ory i n t he NT. The com-
pr ehens i ve nat ur e of t he creat or God' s ki ngdom means t hat t he uni ver se mus t
be t aken i nt o consi der at i on by our t ext s, even i f t he di vi ne- human r el at i onshi p
r emai ns cent ral . Thus t he creat i on of t he wor l d by God is frequently affirmed
or al l uded t o, al t hough t he det ai l s of t hi s creat i ve act do not go mu c h beyond
st at ement s t hat it wa s done ' t hr ough Chr i s t ' as Go d ' s cr eat i ve agent ( Jn 1. 1-3;
1 Cor. 8. 6; Col . 1. 15-20; Heb. 1.2). The i nvol vement of t he creat i on i n human-
i t y' s fall woul d have been a t heol ogi cal commonpl ace for t hose commi t t ed
t o t he OT as Scri pt ure, not t o ment i on an exi st ent i al reality. Ever y b u mp and
br ui se and t hor n and t hi st l e woul d have been t aken as a si gn t hat t hi ngs wer e
not n o w as t hey wer e meant t o be. The cons equences of t he fall for t he cos mos
are vi vi dl y depi ct ed i n Roma ns 8 and t hr oughout t he book of Revel at i on.
But t he pr esent st at e of affairs woul d not obt ai n forever. The comi ng day of
t he Lor d woul d be si gnal l ed by cosmi c di ssol ut i on, t he unravel l i ng of what had
been wove n t oget her i n t he begi nni ng. Whi l e hyper bol i c l anguage i s doubt l ess
i n pl ay i n cert ai n t ext s, t her e is no r eas on t o doubt t hat t he earl y Chr i st i ans
ant i ci pat ed t hat t he eschat on woul d be mar ked by di st ur bances i n t he nat ur al
order. Whet her t hi s i nvol ved an anni hi l at i on of t he creat i on, ver sus a cl eansi ng
or r enewal , ma y be quest i oned. Even 2 Pet er 3 can be ( and shoul d be) t aken t o
i ndi cat e pur gat i on rat her t han anni hi l at i on. In any event , t he t heol ogi cal cr ux is
t hat t he ' de- cr eat i on' mus t pr ecede t he re-creat i on.
Thi s r e- cr eat i on is assur edl y comi ng. The l anguage us ed ma y be l ocal i zed
and even homel y ( recl i ni ng at t he t abl e in t he ki ngdom of God, Lk. 13. 29) or
mor e compr ehens i ve ( ' t he ne w heavens and ne w ear t h' of Rev. 21. 1 and 2 Pet .
3. 13). But it al l poi nt s t o t he real i t y of a t r ansf or med creat i on. Nat ural l y, we find
her e t he obver s e of t he quest i ons rai sed above concer ni ng t he anni hi l at i on or
pur gat i on of t he ol d creat i on: is t he n e w cr eat i on absol ut el y new, or r enewed?
Rat her t han hol d forth a pr obabl y false di chot omy bet ween compl et e cont i nui t y
and compl et e di scont i nui t y, it s eems bet t er t o say t hat t he degr ee of ' ne wne s s '
depends on t he poi nt an aut hor is maki ng i n any t ext . Thus even wi t hi n t he
s ame l et t er t o t he Cor i nt hi ans, Paul can st ress t he meani ngf ul connect i on of t he
192 Cosmology and New Testament Theology
now- body and t he new- body (1 Cor. 6. 9- 20) , and t hen emphas i ze t he radi cal
di fferences bet ween t he t wo (1 Cor. 15. 35- 58) . The t ransi t i on from t he n ow t o
t he n e w is compl ex, and we mus t be wi l l i ng t o t ol erat e a cert ai n ambi gui t y i n
var i ous descr i pt i ons. The ambi gui t y can be neat l y i l l ust rat ed by consi der i ng
t he Gos pel account s of J es us ' r esur r ect i on body, t he first i nst al ment of t he full
rest orat i on t o come. On t he one hand, t he l ogi c of God' s vi ndi cat i on of Jesus
demands t hat t her e be a cont i nui t y bet ween wh o he i s n ow and wh o he wa s
t hen. Thi s t heol ogi cal necessi t y i s conf i rmed by t he empt y t omb and t he r ec-
ogni t i on scenes wi t h t he di sci pl es. Luke i n part i cul ar hi ghl i ght s t he mat eri al i t y
of t he resurrect i on body, as Jesus eat s t he br oi l ed fish i n Lk. 24. 42- 43 (a mot i f
l i kel y pr esent al so i n Jn 21. 9- 15, t hough J es us ' eat i ng i s not ma de expl i ci t ). At
t he s ame t i me, r ecogni t i on i s oft en s l ow i n corni ng, and Jesus i s supernat ural l y
qui ck i n goi ng ( Lk. 24. 13- 31) . Hi s body ma y be mat er i al , but it appear s t o be a
radi cal l y upgr aded subst ance, one t hat cannot onl y di sappear and appear at wi l l ,
but can appar ent l y wal k t hr ough wal l s as wel l (Jn 20. 19) .
We began wi t h t he cent ral i mage of ' heaven and ear t h' , and wi t h it we wi l l
concl ude. As often as not , t he NT pr esent s heaven and eart h i n shar p opposi t i on
t o anot her. But i n t he end, t hese t wo j oi n i n har moni ous uni on. God creat es a
ne w heaven and a n e w eart h. The final wor ds of I r enaeus ' Against Heresies,
whi l e di rect ed t owar ds t he dest i ny of humani t y, ma y equal l y serve t o poi nt t o
t he cul mi nat i on of t he creat i on proj ect as a whol e:
' For t her e is t he one Son, wh o accompl i shed Hi s Fat her ' s wi l l ; and one
huma n r ace al so i n whi ch t he myst er i es of God are wr ought , " whi ch t he angel s
desi re t o l ook i nt o"; and t hey are not abl e t o search out t he wi s dom of God,
by means of whi ch Hi s handi wor k, conf i rmed and i ncor por at ed wi t h Hi s Son,
i s br ought t o perfect i on; t hat Hi s offspri ng, t he Fi rst - begot t en Wor d, shoul d
descend t o t he creat ure (facturam), t hat i s, t o what had been moul ded (plasma),
and t hat it shoul d be cont ai ned by Hi m; and, on t he ot her hand, t he creat ure
shoul d cont ai n t he Wor d, and as cend t o Hi m, pas s i ng beyond t he angel s, and
be ma de after t he i mage and l i keness of God' (Adv. Haer. 5. 36, t r ans. Phi l i p
Schaff).
I N D E X O F A N C I E N T S O U RC E S
Genesis
1 20, 23,
43n. 52,
135, 159,
172, 173
181n. 10
1-2 38
1-3 26,137n.
52
1-11 44
1-12 38
1.1 20n.85,
29, 31,
38, 94,
160
1.1-2.3 64
1.1-2.4 20, 22, 23
1.2 23, 38,
173,174
1.2-7 172
1.2-9 172
1.2-17 37
1.3 22
1.3-30 172
1.4 23
1.6 22, 23,
172
1.7 23, 172
1.8 173
1.9 22
1.9-10 173
1.10 23
1.12 23
1.14 101
1.14-19 152
1.16 23
1.18 23
OLD TESTAMENT
1.21 23
1.25 23
1.26 22, 75
1.26-28 152
1.26-30 23
1.28 102
1.31 23
2.1 20n. 85
2.4 20n. 85,
36, 39
3.17 37, 99,
102
3.17-19 98n.35
4.1-16 37,38n.
35
5.1 36, 39
6 163n.
43, 166,
183n. 21,
190
6-7 159
6-8 174
6.1-4 163
6.1-6 163
7.11 20, 174,
174n.
107,
174n. Il l ,
175
8.2 174,
174n. Il l
8.8-12 37
11-12 38
12f 38
12.2-3 38
12.3 63
12.7 102
13.15 102
14.19 45, 94
14.22 45, 94
17.8 102
19.1-11 169,169n.
78
22 37
28 132
28.12 76
Exodus
10.21 54
15.11 187
20.11 45, 94
20.11 ( LXX) 64n. 10
25-31 20
26.31-35 52n. 23
26.37 52n. 23
27.16 52n. 23
28.11 134n.38
30.25 134n. 38
31.5 134n.38
31.17 94
32.32f 137n. 57
38.18 52n. 23
40.5 52n. 23
Leviticus
16.2 52n. 23
16.12 52n. 23
21.23 52n. 23
24.3 52n. 23
Numbers
3.25 52n. 23
3.26 52n. 23
14.2 183
14.21 95
194 Index of Ancient Sources
Deuteronomy
4.16-18 98n. 32
4.19 98
4.19a 97
4.19b 97
4.32-33 45
6.4 95
8.7 183
10.14 21
17.18 41n. 44
30.4 58n. 42
33.22 175n. 119
Joshua
11.23 133n.36
1 Kings
8.15-53 71
8.27 71
2 Kings
8.27 21
9:20 ( L X X ) 153
12.11 134n.38
19.15 94
22.6 134n. 38
1 Chronicles
14.1 134n. 38
22.15 134n.38
28.2 136
28.21 134n.38
29.5 134n. 38
2 Chronicles
2.12 94
24.12 134n. 38
34.11 134n.38
36.23 38
Ezra
3.7 134n. 38
Nehemiah
9.6 ( L X X ) 64n. 10
Job
9.6 20
11.8-9 20
14.12 ( L X X ) 54
26.7 20,24n.
99
26.11 20
28.14 174n. Il l
30.26 78
38.4-7 21
40.20 190
40.20 ( L X X ) 166n. 62
41.24 190
41.24 ( L X X ) 166n.62
Psalms
2.7 50, 69
8 21,66n.
17
8.1 96
8.5 96
15.10 ( L X X ) 62
18.15 20
19.1 20
19.1-6 21, 96
24.2 20
33.6 172
33.6-9 21
33.7 172
33.9 172
46 66n. 17
48 132
57.6 95
68.19 110
69.28 137n. 57
72.5-7 24
72.18-19 95
74.12-17 23,23n.95
77.16 174n. Il l
78.69 20, 24, 55
82.5 20
89.7 187
89.9-10 23
89.29 24
89.36-7 24
97.3 175n. 119
99.5 136
102.25-27 24
102.26 54
103.6 183
104 20, 21,
22, 96
104.2 20
104.5 20
104.31 96
106.2-3 ( L X X ) 58n.42
106.9 174n. Il l
107.2-3 58n. 42
113.3 ( L X X ) 184
113.6 20n.85
113.7 ( L X X ) 184
115.5 94
115.16-17 20
121.2 94
124.8 94
132.7 136
134.3 94
135.6 174n. I l l
136.4-9 21
136.6 172
139.8 20
145.6 ( L X X ) 64n. 10
146.6 64n. 10,
94
148.3-10 21
148.5 172
148.6 23
148.7 174n. Il l
Proverbs
3.19 174n. Il l
8.22-31 20, 23
8.27-29 172
8.28 174
8.28 ( L X X ) 174n. 112
17.6 ( L X X ) 147
30.16 ( L X X ) 166n. 62
Ecclesiastes
1.4 23
Isaiah
4.3 137n. 57
4.5 186n. 30
6 185
11.2 50
11.11-12 58n.42
13.10 57
14 69n. 38,
186n. 32
14.4 57
14.11 69n.38
14.12-15 57
14.13-15 69n. 38,
186n. 32
Index of Ancient Sources 195
22.22 63
24.1-6 99
24.18 20
28.16 134n.40
30.30 175n. 119
34.4 57
35.10 58n. 42
37.16 64n. 10,
94
40.21 20
40.22 20
42.1 50, 69
43.1 45
43.5 58n. 42
43.18-19 102,105
44.1-2 45
44.24 20
49.5-6 58n. 42
49.6 63,67n.
24
49.22-26 58n. 42
51.9-10 23
51.10 174,183
53.8 ( L X X ) 63
54.11 ( L X X ) 134n.40
55.10-11 68
56.8 58n. 42
58.6 69
60.4 58n. 42
60.9 58n. 42
61 51
61.1 50, 136
61.1-2 69
63.13 174
63.19 ( L X X ) 51
64.1 50, 51,
54, 69n.
34
64.2-4 51
64.5-7 51
64.8-12 51
65.17 102,175
65.18-25 24
66.1 63
66.2 64
66.15-16 175n. 119
66.20 58n. 42
66.22 24, 102,
175
Jeremiah
3.18 58n.42
10.11 20n.85
15.9 54
31.10 58n.42
32.17 94
Lamentations
2.1 136
Ezekiel
1 181n. 10,
185
1.1 51,69n.
34
1.1 ( L X X ) 62
1.22 181n. 10
10 70
11.17 58n.42
20.34 58n. 42
20.41 58n. 42
28.25 58n. 42
31.15 174
32.5-8 57
32.27 ( L X X ) 166,168
34.12-16 58n. 42
36.16-30 103
36.19 58n.42
36.24-28 58n. 42
37.14 103
37.21-23 58n.42
38.22 175n. 119
39.27-28 58n. 42
Daniel
2.35 186n. 32
2.35 (Th) 184
7 41n. 44,
49
7.2-8 67
7.4-6 183
7.9-27 41
7.13 38n. 37,
65, 67
7.13-14 58
7.13-15 46
8.10 186n. 31
8.24 186n. 31
12.1 137n. 57
12.2-3 93
Joel
2.10-11 57
2.30-32 57
3.5 186n. 30
3.14-15 57
Amos
7.4 175n. 119
8.9 54, 57
Habakkuk
2.14 95, 183
Zephaniah
1.18 175n. 119
3.20 58n. 42
Haggai
2.6 54
Zechariah
2.6-11 58n.42
8.7-8 58n. 42
10.9-12
14 24
Malachi
3.16 137n. 57
3 . 19( LXX) 175n. 119
4.1 175n. 119
Apocrypha
Baruch
4.37 58n. 42
5.5 58n. 42
1 Esdras
5.53 134n. 38
5.55 134n. 38
Judith
16.6 166
16.14 48n. 13
2 Maccabees
1.27-29 58n.42
2.18 58n. 42
7.28 94
3 Maccabees
6.2 48n. 13
196 Index of Ancient Sources
Sirach/Ecclesiasticus
1.3 20
17.2 75
36.11-22 58n.42
39.17 172
43.25 48n. 13
45.10 134n. 38
48.10 58n. 42
Tobit
8.5 48n. 13
13.4-5 58n. 42
14.5-6 58n.42
Wisdom of Solomon
5.17 48n. 13
7.18 153
7.22 23
7.22-8.1 23
13.1 134n.38
13.3-9 96
16.24 48n. 13
19.6 48n. 13
PSEUDEPIGRAPHA
Apocalypse of A braham
19.4 94n. 14
Apocalypse of Elijah
5 176n. 127
Apocalypse of Moses
35.2 94n. 14
37.5 94n. 14
2 Baruch (Syriac
Apocalypse)
6.7 70
8.2 70
22.1 51,69n.
34
29.1-30.3 58n. 42
56 163n. 42
56.13 167n. 67
78.7 58n. 42
1 Enoch (Ethiopic
Apocalypse)
1-37 24
2 169
2.1 169
2-5 163, 169
5.2 169
6-16 163
6-36 163
10 168
10.4-6 163,
167n. 67,
168
10.6-12 163
10.12 163
12-14 164
12.4-5 164
13.1 167n.67
13.10 164
14.1 164
14.3 164
14.5 167n. 67
15.4-7 163,166
15.7 166
15.8-12 163
17.1-18.1 24
17-19 24n. 98
17-36 24
18.2-4 24
18.11-16 163
18.13-14 24
18.13-15 24
18.15 25
18.21 163
20-36 24n. 98
21.1-10 24
21.3-6 24
21.6 25
22 24
24-25 180
37-71 46
46.1-8 46
48.1-10 46
48.7 148n. 20
49.3 50
54.3-5 167n. 67
56.1-4 167n.67
57.1 58n.42
62.1-15 46
62.2 50
62.5 41n. 44
69.29 41n. 44
70.1 46
72.1 25
72-82 25
80 25
82.7-10 98n. 32
83 174,175
83.4 174
88.1 167n.67
90.33 58n. 42
2 Enoch (Slavonic
Apocalypse)
1-20 133n. 32
3-37 25
6.54-59 49
7 163
7.1-3 164
8.1 94n. 14
20.1 (shorter
recension) 94n. 14
24-33 25
38-66 25
4 Ezra
4.47-52 46
7.31 129n. 15
8.1-3 46
10.27 134n. 40
13.1-13 46
13.33-36 186n. 30
13.39-50 58n. 42
Joseph andAseneth
14.2-3 51
Jubilees
1.15-18 58n.42
1.29 175n.
114n. 116
2.8-10 98n. 32
4.23 180
Index of Ancient Sources
197
4.26 102
5 163n. 42
5.6 163,
167n. 67
14.5 163
23.27-32 58n. 42
Life and Adam and Eve
49-50 175n. 119
Lives of the Prophets
12.11-12 53
Psalms of Solomon
8.28 58n. 42
11.1-5 58n.42
17.31 58n.42
17.42 50
17.44 58n. 42
Sibylline Oracles
2.229-240 167n. 63,
168
3.265-294 58n. 42
3.796-803 57n. 39
3.80-90 175n. 119
3.82 54
4.185 167n. 64
8.233 54
8.413 54
Testament of Benjamin
(From T 12 Patr.)
9.2 58n. 42
10.11 58n.42
Testament of Joseph
(From T. 12 Patr.)
19.2-12 (Arm) 58n. 42
Testament of Judah
(From T 12 Patr.)
24.2-3 50,51
Testament of Levi
(From T. 12 Patr.)
2-3 94n. 14
2.3 133n. 32
2.6 51,69n.
34
5.1 51
10.3 52n.23,
53
18.6 51
18.6-7 50
Testament ofNaphtali
(From T 12 Patr.)
3 169
3.2 169
3.4-5 163n.43
Testament of Abraham
(From 7: 3 Patr)
7.6 152
Testament of Moses
10.7-10 58n. 42
Ascension of Isaiah
4 176n. 127
7-9 133n. 32
9.1 94n. 14
Qumran
lQapGen
20.13-16 46
1QH
11.19-20 175n. 114
11.19-36 175n. 119
11.31-33 175n. 114
11.34-35 176n. 127
1QM
2.1-3 58n.42
2.7 58n. 42
3.13 58n.42
5.1 58n. 42
1QS
1.13-15 98n.32
4Q302a
46
11Q19
18.14-15 58n.42
57.5-6 58n. 42
59.9-13 58n. 42
CD
2.11-12 58n.42
5.17-18 152
Josephus
Jewish Antiquities {Ant.)
1.70 175n. 119
1.73 167
1.73-75 166
3.181 55
8.75 52n. 23
8.90 52n. 23
11.63 58n.42
11.66 41
11.98 58n.42
11.131-133 58n.42
14.12.3 309 70n.40
17.167 57n. 39
Jewish War (War.)
1.73-74 163n.42,
163n. 43
5.212 52n. 23,
54
5.214 54
5.219 52n. 23
5.288-315 53
5.412 53
Against Apion (Ag. Ap.)
2.240 166
Ep. Arist
86 52n. 23
Hist.
5.13 53
Philo
Abra.
61 26
Aet.
17 8
26 97
76-7 17
Alleg. Interp.
3.96 26
198 Index of Ancient Sources
Cher.
23 26
Drunkenness/Ebr.
30 153n. 39
Fug.
122 26
Opif.
3 26
13-14 97
20-25 97
24 26
Spec.
4.187 94
Mos.
1.212 26
2.65 41
2.86 52n. 23
2.87-88 55
2.101 52n.23
Rewards/Praem.
41-42 97
117 58n.42
151 167,168
164-70 58n. 42
Rabbinic Works
b. Git. (Babylonian Gittin)
56b 53
m. Kelim. (Mishnah
Kelim)
1.6-9 131n.25
m. Sanh. (Mishnah
Sanhedrin)
10.3 58n. 42
t. Sanh. (Tosefta
Sanhedrin)
13.10 58n.42
Targum
Tg. Isa. Targum Isaiah
45.5 58n. 42
53.8 58n. 42
Tg. Hos. Targum Hosea
14.8 58n. 42
Tg. Mic. Targum Micah
5.1-3 58n.42
NEW TESTAMENT
Matthew
1-5 36n. 27
1.1 36,36n.
29, 37,
38, 39
1.1-2 37
1.18-25 37
1.23 44
2.2 32
2.4 39
2.6 30
2.7 32
2.9 32
2.10 32
2.19-23 37
2.20 30
3.8-9 30
3.9 37
3.16 30, 37, 50
3.17 30
4.1-11 31
4.8 31
4.14-16 30
4.15 30
4.17 31
5.1 39
5.3 147
5.5 30
5.12 30
5.13 30
5.14 31
5.16 29
5.18 30, 31, 42
5.21-25 38
5.34 30
5.34-35 31
5.45 189
6.1 29
6.9 190
6.10 30,31
6.19-20 31
6.20 30
6.26 29
8.11 37
8.11-12 58n.42
8.20 29
9.26 30
9.31 30
10.15 37
10.29 30
11.23 32,168n.
72
11.24 30
11.25 31
12.17-21 | f
12.40 30
12.42 30
13.5 30
13.8 30
13.32 29
13.35 31
13.38 31
14.24 30
16.2-3 29
16.10 62
16.17 29
16.18 32
16.26 31
17.5 32
17.25 30
18.10 30
18.18 31
18.19 30
18.21-22 38
19.4-5 38
19.21 30
19.28 40, 41,
42,43n.
52
22.24 38
22.30 30
Index of Ancient Sources 199
22.32 37
23.17 52n. 23
23.22 30
23.34-36 38
23.35 38n. 35,
52n. 23
24.14 31
24.21 31
24.29 33, 54, 65
24.29-30 32
24.30 29
24.35 31, 42
24.36 30
24.37 37
25.31 41
25.34 31
26.13 31
26.64 29, 32, 41
27.45 30
27.51 30,52n.
23
27.54 38,52n.
23
28.2 30
28.16-20 38,38n.
37
28.19 38
28.20 44
Mark
1.1 45, 46
1.8-10 53
1.9-11 50
1.10 49, 49n.
16, 53
1.11 49,49n.
16,53
1.14 164n.49
4.11-12 46
4.32 49, 49n.
16
5.1-14 45
6.41 49,49n.
16
6.51-52 46
7.19 46
7.34 49, 49n.
16
8.11 49,49n.
16
8.17-21 46
8.31-32 47
8.36 48
9.2-8 58n. 44
9.30-32 47
10.2-9 48
10.6 48
10.17-31 49
10.21 49,49n.
16
10.30 41
10.32-34 47
10.37-39 53
10.41-45 49
10.45 47
11.12-25 52
11.25 49,49n.
16
11.30-31 49,49n.
16
12.23 103
12.25 49,49n.
16,104
13 46, 55,
56, 59
13.2 52
13.3-37 56
13.10 48
13.12 55
13.13 55
13.14 46
13.19 48,48n.
14
13.24-25 55
13.24-27 57
13.25 49,49n.
16
13.26 58, 65
13.27 49,49n.
16,55
13.31 49,49n.
16
13.32 49n. 16
13.32-37 56
14.9 48
14.21 47
14.22-25 47
14.58 52n. 23
14.62 49,49n.
16, 52
15.29 52n.23
15.32 52
15.33 54
15.37 53
15.38 53,137n.
56
15.39 51
16.14 148n.20
Ps-Mark
16.15 48
Luke
1-2 71
1.9 52n.23
1.11-20 69
1.26-38 69
1.35 69
1.41-45 69
1.67-79 69
1.79 70n.41
2.8-14 69
2.14 63
2.15 61, 62
2.25-32 69
3.16 69
3.21 50, 62, 69
3.22 62
4.1 69
4.14 69
4.18-19 69
4.25 62
5.12-14 69
5.24 63
6.23 62
8.43-48 69
9.16 62
9.34-35 66
9.54 62
10.15 62,69n.
38
10.18 50, 62, 69
10.20 62,137n.
57
11.13 62
11.20 69
11.50 64
12.23 62
12.24-28 64
12.49 63
200 Index of Ancient Sources
Luke (cont.)
12.51 63
13.10-17 69
13.16 69
13.28-29 58n.42
13.29 191
14.14 103
15.7 62
15.10 62
15.18 62
15.21 62
16.9 148n.20
16.17 63
16.23 62
17.24 61
17.29 62
18.13 61
18.22 62
19.38 62
20.4 62
21.6 71
21.11 62
21.23 63
21.25 54, 63
21.27 65
21.33 63
21.35 63
22.43-44 70n. 39
22.53 70n. 41
23.44-45a 70
23.45b 70
24 60
24.4-5 71
24.13-31 192
24.21 58n.42
24.23 71
24.42-43 192
24.49 65, 66
24.50 65
24.50-53 64, 65
24.51 61, 65
24.52 66
John
1.1-18 84
1.1-2 84
1.1-3 191
1.3 80, 85,
158n. 8
1.3-17 84, 85
1.4 80
1.4-13 85
1.5 85
1.6-8 85
1.9 78
1.9-13 85
1.10 75
1.13 79
1.14 79, 80, 88
1.14-17 85
1.16 88
1.17 79
1.18 79, 84
1.19-17.26 84
1.51 51, 62,
69n. 34,
76, 77
2.19 77
2.19-20 52n. 23
3.3 77,77n.
17
3.6 79
3.12 77, 150
3.12-13 77
3.13 77
3.16 87, 191
3.31 77,77n.
17
4.24 79
4.34 87
4.38 87
5.19-20 87
5.19-23 87
5.21 80
5.26 80
5.29 103
5.36 87
6.57 80
6.63 79
8.12 79
8.23 77
8.32 79
8.32-34 79
9.4 87
10.11 80
11.24 103
11.25-26 80
11.52 58n.42
12.12ff 86
12.27 86
12.31 87
12.32 86
12.44-45 87
13.1-3 86
13.20 87
13.27 86
14.2 164n. 45
14.3 164n. 45
14.6 79, 80
14.9b 87
14.26 87
15.8 87
15.13 80
15.16 87
15.26 87
15.27 87
16.8 87
16.13 79
16.28 164n. 45
17.3 79
17.5 75
17.15 87
17.18 87
17.23 87
17.24 85, 160
18.1-21.25 84
19.11 77n. 17
19.23 77n. 17
20.17 87
20.19 192
20.19-23 87
20.21 87
20.31 80
21.9-15 192
21.25 75
Acts
1 58n. 42
1.3 64
1.5 66, 70
1.6 58n.42
1.6-11 64
1.8 63, 67,
71,191
1.9 65
1.9-10 65
1.9-11 61, 65
1.10 65,164n.
45
1.10-11 61n.4,
65, 68
Index of Ancient Sources 201
1.11 65, 66,
164n. 45
2.1-4 68
2.2 62, 66
2.5 61,67n.
24
2.19 184n. 21
2.22 68
2.27 62,168n.
72
2.31 62,168n.
72
2.33 66, 68
2.33-36 67
2.34 61
2.36 65, 66
2.38 68
2.43 68
3.6 68
3.16 68
3.20-21 66
3.21 61
3.25 63
4.2 103
4.7 68
4.8 68
4.12 61, 68
4.17 68
4.24 63, 64,
64n. 10
4.30 68
4.31 68
5.1-11 68
5.12 68
5.16 68
5.19 68
5.24 81
6.7 68
6.8 68
6.10 68
7 70, 71
7.2 71
7.9 71
7.29-34 71
7.44 71
7.48 70
7.49 63
7.50 64
7.51-54 71
7.55 62, 68
7.55-56 67,71
7.56 51, 61,
62, 67
7.57-58 67
7.59 71
8.7 68
8.17 68
8.26 68
8.26-40 70
8.33 63
9.3 62
9.3-4 63
9.5 67
9.8 67
9.10-16 67
9.14 68
9.15 68
9.17 68
9.21 68
9.27 68
9.28 68
9.34 68
10.1-48 70
10.3 68
10.11 63,69n.
34
10.16 61
10.42 56
10.43 68
10.44 68
11.5 62
11.9 62
11.10 61
11.28 68
12.7-11 68
12.23 68
12.24 68
13.2 68
13.9 68
13.47 63
13.48-49 68
13.52 68
14.3 68
14.6 81
14.9 72
14.11-18 72
14.15 63,64n.
10
14.15-17 72
14.24 64
15.12 68
16:16-18 68
16.18 68
17.7 72
17.16-31 72
17.18 72
17.24 63, 72,
73, 94
17.24-25 72
17.25 63, 73
17.26 72
17.27 72, 73
17.28 63, 72
17.30-31 73
17.31 56, 66, 73
17.32a 73
18.2 104
19.12 68
19.13 68
19.17 68
19.23-29 72n. 53
20.32 68
22.6 62
22.16 68
26.7 58n. 42
27.23-24 68
Romans
1.5 120
1.8 91n. 6
1.19 96
1.20 91, 91n. 6
1.20a 96
1.20-21 95
1.20-25 95, %,
98.101
1.23 98,98n.
33
1.25 94, 95,
97. 102
2.13 146
2.16 56
3.6 91n. 6
3.19 91n. 6
3.23 99
4.11-12 102
4.13 91, 91n. 6
4.15 102
4.17 94
5.12 91,91n.
6, 98, 99
202 Index of Ancient Sources
Romans (cont.)
5.13 91, 91n. 6
8 140n. 68
8.10 99
8.11 104
8.18 99
8.18-22 98n. 34,
99
8.19 99, 100
8.19-22 99, 100
8.19-23 48, 104
8.19-25 99
8.20 98,98n.
34, 99,
102
8.20-21 140n.68
8.20b 99
8.21 98, 99,
100,102,
175n. 116
8.23 100,103,
104
8.23-25 99, 100
8.29-30 99
8.38 101,103,
103n. 54
9.5 95
11.12 91n. 6
11.15 91n. 6
11.36 94
11.36a 95
11.36b 95
13.11 105
16.3-5a 104
16.5b 104
1 Corinthians
1.7 105
1.20 91n. 6
1.21 91n. 6
1.27 91n. 6
1.28 91n. 6
2.12 91n. 6
3.19 91n. 6,
146,191
3.21-23 106
3.22 91,91n.
6, 102
4.5 105
4.9 91n. 6
4.13 91n.6
5.10 91n. 6
6.2 91n. 6
6.3 103,103n.
54
6.9-20 192
7.17-31 104
7.24 146
7.29a 104
7.29-31 104
7.31 91n.6,
92,129n.
15
7.31b 104
7.32-34 104
7.33 91n. 6, 92
7.34 91n. 6, 92
8.1-11.1 94
8.4 91,91n.
6,91n. 8,
94
8.5 94, 100
8.6 94, 191
8.8 94
10.11 104n.62
10.20-21 100
10.26 191
11.32 91n. 6
14.10 91,91n.
6, 97
15 129n. 16
15.20 103,104
15.20-28 103n. 57
15.23 105
15.24 101,
165n. 54
15.26 106
15.28 106
15.35-44 97
15.35-54 131
15.35-58 192
15.40 93,93n.
13,150
15.41 93n. 13
15.42-44 93n. 13
15.44 93n. 13
15.45 103
15.48 93n. 13
15.50-57 102
15.52 106
15.52-54 105
15.54 106
16.9 104
16.22b 105
2 Corinthians
1.12 91n. 6
4.6 94
4.16 105
4.18 105
5.1 150
5.17 102,
175n. 116
5.17a 105
5.17b 105
5.19 91n. 6
7.10 91n. 6
11.2 105
12 91
12.2 21, 189
12.2-3 93
Galatians
2.2 164n. 49
3.19 169
3.26-28 105
4.3 91,91n.
6, 100,
101
4.5 101
4.8 100
4.9 100,101
4.10 101
4.25-26 141n. 69
6.14 91n. 6,
92, 105
6.15 102,105
6.16 105
Ephesians
1.3 109
1.3-4 110
1.3-14 108
1.4 160
1.6 112
1.7 109
1.10 110,111,
112,113
1.20-2 109,110
1.21 101,109,
165n. 54
Index of Ancient Sources 203
1.22 109
1.23 111,112
1.27 112
2.1 109
2.1-4 112
2.1-7 110
2.2 109, 111
2.5-11 112
2.6 112,113
2.7 113
2.10 109,110
2.19-24 112
2.25-30 112
3.6 109
3.9 94,111
3.10 101, 112
3.14-15 111
3.19 113
3.20 113
3.21 109,113
4.1 108,
110n.7
4.7-12 110
4.8 110,111
4.9 110
4.10 110,111
4.11-12 111
4.17 HOn.7
5.2 110n.7
5.8 110n.7
5.15 HOn.7
6.10 101
6.10-17 109
6.11 109
6.12 108
6.14 109n.6
6.16 109
6.18 109n.6
Philippians
2.6-U 95
2.10 150,190
2.10-11 106
2.11 93
3.19-21 141n.69
4.3 137n. 57
Colossians
1.15 114
1.15-20 191
1.16 94, 101,
114,115,
165n. 54
1.18 116
1.23 114
2.4 114
2.8 100,114,
115,116
2.8-15 115n. 14
2.10 101
2.11-14 115n. 14
2.14 115n. 14
2.15 101,
103n. 54,
116
2.16-18 114
2.17 115,116
2.20 100,115,
116
2.21 115
2.22 115
2.23 115
3.1 115,116
3.1-4 141n. 69
3.2 116
3.3 115
3.4 115
3.5 115
3.10 115,116
3.12-15 116
1 Thessalonians
1.9 100
1.10 117
2.9 164n. 49
3.13 117
4.13 117
4.13-5.11 117
4.16-17 117
4.17 66,117
5.11 117
2 Thessalonians
1.4-5 117,118
1.10 118
2.1-2 118
2.3 118
2.6-8 118
2.8 118
2.10 118
2.11 118
1 Timothy
1.3 121
1.15 26, 119,
120
1.17 119
3.15 121
3.16 120
4.11 121
4.16 121
5.7 121
5.21 120,121
6.3 121
6.7 121
6.13-14 120
6.14 120
6.17 121
6.19 121
2 Timothy
1.8 123
1.8-9 122
1.10 122
1.12 122
2.10 122
2.12a 122
2.12b 122
2.14 123
2.16 122
2.18 122
3.1 122
3.2-5 122
3.5 122,123
4.1-2 122,123
4.6 123
4.8 123
Titus
1.2 123
1.3 123
2.1-10 124
2.11-12 124
3.4-7 40
3.5 40
3.5-6 124
3.7 40
3.7-8 124
Hebrews
1-2 139
1.1-4 136
204 Index of Ancient Sources
Hebrews (cont)
1.2 133,134,
134n. 37,
135n. 41,
135n. 42
136,191
1.3 133,
133n. 36
1.5-14 136n.51
1.6 136
1.10 134
1.10-12 140
1.11-13 136
1.12 129n. 16
1.13 133n.31,
137
1.14 136
2.3 137
2.4 133n. 36,
134,136
2.5-9 136n. 51
2.6 137n. 55
2.6-9 133,
133n. 32
2.8 137
2.9 138
2.10 133,134,
135n. 42
2.10-11 142
2.10-18 136n.51
2.14 133n. 31
2.14-15 137,
137n. 52,
137n. 55
3.4 134,136,
140
3.7 133n. 36,
136
3.7-4.11 138n.60,
141
3.14 136
4.1 136n.49
4.1-11 135n.43
4.2 136n. 49
4.3 134,136
4.6 136n. 49
4.10 134
4.12-13 140
4.13 134,136
4.14 138
5-10 142
5.1-7.28 136n. 51
5.7 133n. 31,
137n. 55
6.2 133n. 31,
137n. 55
6.4 133n. 36,
136
6.4-5 136
6.6 137
6.8 137
6.9-20 142
6.12 136n.49
6.13 136n.49
6.15 136n.49
6.17 136n.49
6.19 52n. 23
6.19f 138
7.6 136n. 49
7.26 138
8.1-2 136n.51,
138
8.1-5 140n. 69
8.2 134,
140n. 69
8.3-10.18 136n. 51
8.5 135n. 43,
136,143
8.6 136n. 49
9.1-14 138
9.3 52n. 23
9.8 133n. 36,
136
9.10 140n.69
9.11 129n.
16,134,
140n. 69,
141n. 70
9.14 133n. 36,
136
9.15 136n.49
9.23 140n. 69
9.23-24 143
9.24 138,
140n. 69,
140n.69
9.26 134,136
9.26-28 136,140
9.27-28 137n. 55
9.28 136
10.1 140n.69
10.5 134
10.13 133n.31,
136,137
10.15 133n. 36,
136
10.19f 138
10.19-36 142
10.20 52n.23,
70,138
10.23 136n.49
10.27 133n.31,
136,137
10.29 133n. 36,
136
10.31 133n. 31,
137
10.36 136n. 49
11 134,
141n. 69
11.1-3 127,131
11.3 126,131,
133,133n.
36,134,
134n. 37,
135n. 43,
141,141n.
70,172
11.5 137
11.9 136n.49
11.10 134,
134n. 39,
141n. 70
11.10-16 141n.69
11.11 136n.49
11.13 136n.49
11.13-16 141n.70
11.16 134
11.17 136n.49
11.19 133n.31,
137n. 55
11.33 136n.49
11.35 133n.31,
137n. 55
11.39 136n.49
11.40 137n.53
12.1-29 142
12.2 137,
137n. 55
12.18 167n.68
Index of Ancient Sources 205
12.18-29 127,
141n. 69
12.22 133n.
32, 136,
186n. 30
12.22a 138n. 58
12.23 137,
137n. 53
12.25 137
12.25-29 129n.
16,136,
139,140,
140n. 68
141
12.26 136n.49
12.27 129n. 15,
131, 134,
137
12.29 133n.31,
137
13.2 136, 139
13.10 128n. 13
13.12-14 142
13.12-16 142
13.14 134,136,
141n. 69
13.15-16 142
13.20 133n.31,
137n. 55
13.20-21 140
13.21 134
James
1.2-4 151,153,
156
1.4 152
1.5 152, 153,
156
1.17 152,153,
156
1.18 151,153,
154
1.26 146, 149
1.27 145,146,
149,151,
156
2.5 145,147,
149,156
2.19 152
3 150
3.5-6 154
3.6 145,147,
149,151,
154, 155,
156
3.9 149,151,
152
3.13 151
3.14 145,150,
151,156
3.14-16 155
3.14-17 156
3.15 151,155,
190
3.16 150
3.17 151,156
3.39 152
4 149
4.1-10 149
4.4 145,148,
149,156,
191
4.4b 144
4.7 156
4.12 152
5.7 152
5.7-11 154,156
/ Peter
1.1 141n. 69
1.4 160
1.5 157
1.13 158
1.13-25 158
1.14 158,
159n. 15
1.15 158
1.17 141n. 69,
158,161
1.18 160
1.18-21 158,161
1.19 146n. 11,
158
1.20 157,158,
158n. 5,
160,161
1.20a 160
1.21 158
1.23 160
2.11 141n.69,
159n. 15
2.20 146
3 163
3.3 147,
158n. 5
3.12-17 161
3.15 161
3.16 161
3.18 161,162,
165
3.18a 161
3.18-22 161,
161n. 24
3.18b 161
3.19 161,162,
163,
163n. 40,
164,165
168
3.19-20 162,
162n. 38,
163,164
3.22 161,164,
164n.
45, 165,
166n. 57
4.2 159n. 15
4.3 159n. 15
4.6 162,
163n. 40
4.7 158,159
4.19 157
5.9 158n. 5,
159n. 10,
165
2 Peter
1.4 158n.
5, 159,
159n. 15,
160
2.1 165
2.2 165,170,
171
2.4 165,166,
167,167n.
68,168,
172n. 93,
173,176,
190
Index of Ancient Sources
2 Peter (cont)
2.4-5 163,167
2.4-8 170
2.4-10 165
2.5 158n. 5,
159,164
2.9 170,
172n. 93
2.9-12 171
2.10 159n. 15,
169
2.10b 165,168,
170
2.11 170
2.12 170
2.13 165
2.17 167n. 68,
172n. 93
2.18 159n. 15,
165
2.20 158n. 5,
159,160
3 175,191
3.3 159n. 15,
165,170,
171
3.4 170,171,
172,175,
177
3.4a 170,171
3.4b 171
3.4-13 165
3.5 159,
171n. 92,
172.173,
174n. 105
175,190
3.5-6 159,171
3.5-7 171,172
3.5-10 170
3.6 158n. 5,
159,171n.
92,172,
173,173n.
104.174,
175
3.6-13 42n.51
3.7 171,171n.
92,172,
172a 93,
174
175,177,
190
3.9 177
3.10 54,115,
159,172,
174.175,
177
3.10-12 190
3.12 172,174.
175.176,
177
3.12-13 175
3.13 129n. 16,
159,160,
175,176,
177
191
3.14 146n. 11
1 John
1.1 74
1.4 78
1.5 78
1.6 79
1.7 79
1.8 79, 80
2.2 88
2.3 88
2.4 80
2.8 88, 129n.
15
2.15 88
2.17 129n. 15
2.24 88
2.25 88
2.28 88
3.1 88
3.19 80
4.2 88
4.7 88
4.13 88
5.4 88
5.19 88,186n.
32
3 John
1.2 80
Jude
3 165
4 165
5-7 163
6 165,166,
167,
167n. 68,
168,169
6-8 165
7 169
7-8 165
8 165,168,
169,
169n. 80
12 165
13 167n. 68
16 159n. 15
18 159n. 15,
165
24 146n. 11
Revelation
1.4 181,185n.
27
1.4-5 185n.27
1.7 46, 66
1.8 185
1.12-16 185
1.13 46
1.18 168n.72
1.19 181
1.20 185
2-3 185n.27
2.11 185
3.5 137n. 57
3.21 41n. 44
4.1 51,69a.
34,180n.
7
4.3 182
4.5 188
4.8 185
4.11 179
5.8 184
5.12 190
5.13 182,183,
184
6.2-8 185n. 29
6.8 168n. 72
6.10 187
Index of Ancient Sources 207
6.13 187
6.14 54, 180,
187
7.1 185,
185n. 29
7.14 182
8.1 181
8.3 185
8.3-5 182
8.13 180n. 8,
182
9 184
9.1 185,
185n. 28
9.1-11 183
9.2 183n. 21
10.4 182
10.6 183n. 18
11.2 186n. 31
11.7 183,186
11.12 182
11.19 51, 182
12 180,
185n. 29,
186n. 32
12.3 186
12.7 185
12.7-12 182
12.8 186n. 32
12.10 182
12.14 183
12.15-16 183
13.1 183
13.2-3 179
13.3 186
13.6 186n. 30
13.8 137n. 57
13.11-17 187
13.41 187
14.1 186n.30
14.2-3 186n. 30
14.6 180n. 8
14.7 179
14.14 46
14.14-16 66
16.11 181
16.13-14 187
16.18-21 188
16.19 188
17 183n. 19
17.8 137n.57,
179,183,
186
18.2 164n,47
19.11 51, 62,
69n. 34
19.17 180n.8
20 184
20.1-10 168
20.7 164n.47
20.8 183n. 18
20.9-10 186n. 30
20.11 180,186n.
32,188
20.12 137n.57
20.13 168n.72,
184
20.14 168n.72
20.15 137n.57
21 182
21-22 183n. 19
21.1 129n. 15,
129n. 16,
175n.
116,180
184,191
21.1-2 141n.69
21.2 181,
181n. 11,
182
21.5 188
21.10-14 134n.40
21.11 182
21.12 58n.42
21.12-14 188
21.14 184
21.19-20 134n.40
21.24 180
21.27 137n. 57
22.16 185
Christian and/or
gnostic works
1 Clement
9.4 41
Eusebius
Ev. Praep.
1.7 9n. 25
395d 57n. 39
Gos. Phil. Gospel of
Philip (Nag Hammadi)
84 52n. 23
Gos. Eb. Gospel of the
Ebionites
6 52n. 23
Gos. Jos. (Apocryphon
of James)
24.3 52n. 23
Gos. Naz. Gospel of the
Nazarenes
36 52n. 23
Gos. Pet. Gospel of Peter
5.20 52n. 23
Irenaeus
Adv. Haer.
5.36 192
Justin
Dial. Tryph.
134.4 58n. 42
GRECO- ROMAN TEXTS
Aristotle
De Caelo
1.5-7 14
1.10 11
1.10-12 14
2.7 14
279al7-28 184n. 24
294a28 9n. 18
Eth. nic
9.82 149n. 26
1157B 149n.26
1166A 149n.26
Historia Animalia
5 153
9 153
208 Index of Ancient Sources
Met.
12.7.2 15
12.7.7-9 15
12.8.9-10 14
12.8.11 14
12.8.12-14
983b6 9n. 17,
9n. 24
Cicero
De amicitia
21.80 149n.26
de finJOn Ends
3.62 18n. 74
4.12 16
Nat. de./Nat. Deorum
2.118 17,41n.
43
Republic
6.17 21
Cleanthes
Hymn to Zeus
1.1 185n.26
Orphic Hymns
8.11 185n.26
10.4 185n.26
Demosthenes
On the Navy Boards
5 149n. 27
On the Embassy
62 149n. 27
Letters
3.27 149n. 27
Dio Cassius
56.29.3 57n. 39
Diogenes Laertius
7.134 16,41n.
43
7.137 16
7.142 173
8.48 6
10 15n.53
135-6 17
142 17
Empedocles
fr. 17.1-13 l l n. 35
Epictetus
Disc.
1.9.4 18
1.10.10 18
3.1.19-20 18
24.95 18
Euripides
Orestes
1046 149n. 26
Heraclitus
fr. 30 lOn. 26
Herodotus
1.65 6
2.52 6
4.8 7
5.92 7
9.59 6
Hesiod
Theogony
1-32 8
11.713ff 190
104 166n. 59
116 166n. 59
116-17 8
617 166n. 60
639-711 166n.61
650 167n. 71
678-705 8
718 166n. 59
721 167n. 70
729 167n. 71
736 167n. 70
807 167n. 70
807-814 168
811 166n.61
847-68 8
Homer
Obyssey
11.54-7 167n.69
12.219 184n.21
13.77 6
15.329 7
20.356 167n. 69
Iliad
3.93 149n. 27
3.256 149n. 27
4.17 149n. 27
5.504 7
8.5-15 166n. 60
8.10 166n. 58
8.10-14 166n.59
8.14 7
12.225 6
14.187 7
14.201 9n. 17
14.246 9n. 17
15.191 167n.69
17.425 7
18.607 7
21.56 167n.69
26.282 149n. 27
Lucretius
De rerum natura
5.195-234 15
5.235-415 15n. 56
Marcus Aurelius
11.1.3 41n.43
Pindar
Pythian Odes
2.20 155n. 44
Plato
Gorgias
508a 97
522E-523B 166n. 58
523B 166n. 60
Laws
744B 149n. 26
757A 149n. 26
767C 153
897A-B 13n. 50
Phaedo
111E-112A 166n.59
Index of Ancient Sources 209
Phileb.
29e 7n. 8
Polit
269d 7n. 8
Timaeus
29A 13
29D 13
30A 7n. 10,13
30CD 13
32D-33B 13
33B 13
34B 13
37D 13
40B-C 13
44d-45b 97
46C-47D 13
47B-C 13
68E 13
92C 13
Timon
39d 153
Plutarch
Caes
69 57n. 39
Stoic.
1053a 17
Stoic. Rep.
1053a 173
Pseudo-Sophocles
Fragment 2 175n.
119,
176n. 127
Seneca
Ben.
6.22 17n. 66
Consol. ad Marc
26.6-7 17n. 66
Nat Quest.
27 17
Thyes.
835-884 17
Simplicius
In Aristot. De caelo
comm.
2.168b 155n.44
Virgil
Aenead
4.528-552 166n. 60
11.321 149n.27
578-580 166n. 61
Georgics
1.471-80 187n.33
3.541-58 187n.33
Xenophon
Mem.
1.1.11 7n.8
I N D E X O F N A M E S
Achtemeier, E. 78
Achtemeier, P. J. 157, 159, 160, 161,
162, 163, 164, 165
Adams, E. 6, 15, 17, 18, 24, 56, 82, 91,
92, 95, 96, 97, 98, 100, 105, 107,
126, 127, 129, 131, 135, 141, 158,
159, 171, 173, 174, 175, 176, 177
Adamson, J. B. 154
Allison, D. C. Jr. 31, 32, 33, 36, 38, 39,
41, 54
Anderson, B. W. 19
Anderson, K. L. 65
Ashton, J. 75
Attridge, H. W. 128, 129, 134, 135
Aune, D. E. 78, 178, 183, 186
Bacon, B. W. 36
BakeT,W.R. 155
Balch, D. L. 44
Balz,H. 31, 91, 158,160
Barrett, C. K. 65, 96, 102, 136
Barth,M. 110
Bauckham, R. 143, 154, 155, 159, 165,
167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173,
174, 175, 176, 178, 179, 184, 188
Baum,L. 5
Bautch, K. C. 24, 25
Beale, G. K. 55, 56, 102, 104, 129, 136,
143, 178, 182, 185, 186, 188
Beare,F.W. 162
Beasley-Murray, G. R. 77, 80, 81, 84
Beaton, R. 35
Beckwith, R. 93
Beker,J.C. 92
Berger,P. 43, 44, 82, 90, 107
Best,E. 54
Betz, H. D. 100
Bindemann, W. 99
Bird, M. F. 46, 48
Black, M. 25
Blass,D. 162
Bockmuehl, M. N. A. 62
Boll,F. 178
Bolle,K.W. 107
Boring, E. 51
Boring, M. E. 158
Brown, R. E. 52, 70, 75, 76, 77, 78, 80,
82, 85
Brox,N. 163
Bruce, F. F. 101,137
Buckwalter, D. 66, 67
Bultmann, R. 75, 77, 78, 80, 81, 85, 92,
128,130
Burnett, F. W. 40, 41
Burridge, R. A. 46, 83
Caird, G. B. 24, 56, 178, 188
Canick,H. 166
Cargal,T.B. 145
Carson, D. A. 75, 79, 85
Carter, W. 36, 37
Cassem, N. H. 75, 81
Charlesworth, J. H. 163
Chen, D. G. 64
Cheung, L. L. 147, 148, 151, 154
Cody, A. 138
Collins, A. Y. 21, 46, 47, 58, 94, 178,
180, 181, 188
Collins, J. J. 25, 55
Collins, R.F. 123
Conzelmann, H. 67
Omiford, F. M. 13
Cox, P. 83
Cranfield, C. E. B. 97, 98
Crossan, J. D. 28
Culpepper, R. A. 83
Dalton, W.J. 161, 162, 164
Davids, P. H. 144,147
Davies, M. 76
Davies, W. D. 36, 38, 39, 41
Day, J. 23
Index of Names 2 1 1
Delling,G. 100
Denzey, N. 33
DeSilva,D.A. 164
Dibelius, M. 144, 147, 148, 153
Dillon, J. M. 14
Dunn, J. D. G. 56, 69, 94, 96, 103, 128
Dunnill,J. 131
Edmonds, R. G. 181
Edwards, J. R. 52
Elders, L. 14
Ellingworth, P. 129,133, 134,135,137,
138
Elliott, J. H. 146,151
Ellul,J. 179,182
Esler,P. 44
Evans, C. 52, 56
Fairweather, J. 83
Farrow, D. 64
Fee, G. D. 95, 103, 104, 112, 120
Filson, F. V. 32, 80
Fitzmyer, J. A. 65, 70, 96
Foster, R. L. 110
Frampton, P. 5
France, R. T. 32, 35, 52, 56, 58, 162,
163,164
Franklin, E. 64, 66
Fretheim, T. E. 19,21
Friesen,S. 178, 179, 183
Frishman,J. 35
Funk,R.W. 162
Furley,D.J. 11
Gaffin,RB.Jr. 103
Gantke,W. 90
Garland, D. E. 104
Garrett, S. R. 69
Gaventa,B. 67
Glessmer,U. 101
Goldingay, J. 68
Goppelt,L. 161,162
Goulder, M. D. 35, 36
Green, J. B. 70, 71
Green, M. 171
Greene, B. 7
Grindheim, S. 45
Guhrt,J. 93
Gundry, R. H. 35
GurtneT, D. M. 52, 137
Guthrie, G. 136
Haacker,K. 96
Hagner,D.A. 37
Hahm,D. 16
Hahne, H. A. 98, 99
Hamid-Khani, S. 77
Hanson, P. D. 46, 47
Hart,T. 143
Hartin,P. 151
Hasel, G. F. 22
Hays, R. B. 28, 34, 35, 93
Heckl,R. 36
Hieke,T. 39
Holtzmann, H. J. 56
Houlden, L. 62
Hughes, P. E. 132
Hurst, L. D. 126, 136, 139
Hurtado, L. W. 66, 140
Isaacs, M. E. 129,131
Jackson-McCabe, M. 144,153
Jeremias, J. 22, 168, 174
Jervell,J. 71
Johnson, A. 66
Johnson, L. T. 67, 69, 121, 144, 145,
146,147, 149, 150, 153
Johnson, M. 76
Johnson, M. D. 37
Kahn, C. H. 6, 10
Kasemann, E. 96, 97
Keck, L. E. 78
Kee, H. C. 47
Keener, C. S. 76, 84
Kelly, J. N. D. 159, 161, 162, 163, 167,
169,170,171
Kirk,G.S. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 18
Klink, E. W. Ill 82
Koch,K. 101
Koester, C. R. 79, 134, 135
Kooten, G. H. van 35
Kostenberger, A. J. 76, 87
Krasovec, J. 78
Kraftchick, S. J. 170
Laansma, J. 127, 128, 130, 136, 137, 139
Lakoff,G. 76
2 1 2
Index of Names
Lane,W.L. 134, 135, 137, 139
Lapidge, M. 16
Laws,S. 147, 148, 149
Leske,A. 35
Levenson, J. D. 20
Lietzmann, H. 100
Lieu, J. 88, 89,145
Lincoln, A. T. 76
Lockett, D. 146
Lohflnk, G. 64, 65
Lohse, E. 115,116
Long, A. A. 16, 17, 18
Long, F.J. 108
Longenecker, R. N. 100
Louw,J.P. 115
Lucas, E. C. 33
Luce, J. V. 10, 11, 18
Luckmann, T. 43, 82,107
Luz,U. 36
Mack, B. L. 47
McDonough, S. 179
McLaren, B. D. 81
McKnight,S. 56
MacRae,G.W. 129
Mahlherbe, A. J. 117
Malina, B. J. 38, 75, 178
Mansfeld,J. 17,18
Marcus, J. 46, 50
Marrow, S. B. 76
Marshall, I. H. 62, 69, 70, 117, 121
Martin, R. P. 147,152
Martyn, J. L. 82, 83
Mayor, J. B. 148
Meeks,W. 77
Mell,U. 102,105
Menzies, RP. 69
Michaels, J. R 162, 163, 164
Minear, P. 178,181,183
Moffitt,D. 35
Moo, D. 96, 128, 147, 148, 150, 153,
154, 167, 168, 170,172
Moo, J. 185
Motyer, S. 51
Moule, C. F. D. 67
Mounce, W. D. 120
Mussner, F. 101
Myers, C. 47
Neugebauer, O. 131
Neusner, J. 131
Neyrey, J. H. 75,171
Nickelsburg, G. W. E. 24
Nida,E.A. 115
Nolland, J. 37, 39, 40, 41, 43, 62, 70
O'Brien, P. T. 100,112,115
Oden,R.A. Jr. 20, 90, 157
Okure,T. 87
OToole, R. F. 65
Overman, J. A. 44
Painter, J. 84,131
Pao,D.W. 68
Parsons, M. C. 64
Patella, M. 45
Pelikan,J. 139
Penner, T. 152
Pennington, J. T. 20, 29, 30, 34, 45, 61
Pesch,R. 52
Pitre,B. 56, 57
Plevnik,J. 106
Polman,G.H. 86
Rad,G.von 19
Raven, J. E. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 18
Reicke, B. 160, 161, 162
Reinhartz, A. 82, 83, 87
Rensberger, D. 76
Ricoeur,P. 81
Rohrbaugh, R L. 75
Rompay, L. van 35
Ropes, J. H. 148,150
Rowland, C. 50, 52, 62
Runia,D.T. 12,26
Sagan,C. 45
Saldarini, A. J. 44
Sasse,H. 91,158
Schenck,K. 26
Schlatter, A. 157
Schnabel,E. 72, 94, 95
Schnackenburg, R. 32, 38
Schneider, G. 31
Schneider, H. 166
Schofield, M. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 18
Scholar, J. M. 127
Schrage, W. 94, 103
Schreiner,T. 96
Schweizer, E. 19,100
Scriba,A. 92
Sedley,D.N. 16, 17, 18
Index of Names 213
Segovia, F.F. 83, 84, 86 Vanhoozer, K. J. 83
Senior, D. 35 Van Stempvoort, P. A. 65
Sim, D. C. 42 Verseput, D. J. 153
Solmsen,F. 14,15 Vlastos,G. 6, 7
Soskice,J.M. 143 Vogel, C. J. de 13
Spara,W. 90 Vdgtle, A. 167,168, 169, 170, 172, 175,
Stadelman, L. J. 20 176
Stager, L. 132 Vos, G. 42
Staley,J.L. 83
Stanton, G. 35 Wachob,W. 146
Steinhardt, P. J. 5 Waerjen, H. C. 55
Stendahl,K. 35 Wallace, D. 147
Strelan,R. 61, 64, 65, 66 Walton, J. 20, 130, 131,132
Walton, S. 70,71
Tabor, J. D. 21 Weder,H. 143
Taylor, V. 51 Wenham, G. J. 94, 98
Theissen,G. 56 Wenin,A. 35
Thiselton, A. C. 131 Westcott, B. F. 133
Thuren, L. 161 White, J. 98, 103, 105
Thompson, L. L. 181 Wilk,F. 102
Tollefson, K. D. 145 Williamson, R. 134,135,141
Torrance, T. F. 64, 66 Wimbush, V. L. 89
Treier,D.J. 126 Winter, B. W. 72
Trumbower, J. A. 78 Witherington, B. 50
Turner, M. 66, 67, 69 Wright, M. R. 5, 6, 7, 11, 131
Turok,N. 5 Wright, N. T. 47, 56, 57, 67, 127, 131,
137,140
Ulansey,D. 53
Ziesler,J.A. 68
VanderKam, J. C. 25, 98 Zwi ep, A. W 64, 65

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