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An alternative history in Genesis?

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#21 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 28 September 2008 - 10:54 PM

Ah yes, Richard; I'd seen that post where you noted Dr Barker's thoughts. I thought I'd just provide another response for you to consider -- one from a Hebrew expert who's also a native Hebrew speaker, which Barker is not (so far as I'm aware).

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#22 RichardWorthington


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Posted 28 September 2008 - 11:52 PM

I would caution against taking Margaret Barker en toto. There are just too many red flags. I think her approach has some validity, and confirms the temple mysticism, so to speak, of Orthodox theology. But when I find that Mormon "scholars" have taken a great interest in her work, that's just one red flag.

Many thanks for the feedback!

I naturally applied a ‘corrective’ when reading her works (the only one I have is her book on Revelation). For example, her description that the Balaam mentioned in Rev 2:14 is St Paul is fascinating - if very disturbing if true! (The Angel of the Lord met Balaam on his way, and He also met Paul on his way.) The interpretation being that the Christianity of St Paul was totally against the Christianity of the Hebrew Christians. However, there were obviously false letters of St Paul circulating, and in the early days the Hebrews Christians could well have considered that the author of the false letters was indeed the true Paul. Hence the verse in Revelation would be warning against the false teachings of the heretics - which St Paul himself was also against - yet they were not aware of the distinction as yet.

Regarding her meeting with the Mormons - yes it raised eyebrows with me too! But then I decided to watch my thoughts and feelings - and I realised that I was treating them far more harshly than I would those of other religions (e.g. I try to see points of convergence between my own Orthodox beliefs and Hinduism, New Age-ism, Rationalism, Buddhism, etc). Yet God remembers those in all the world who remember Him (with their best available knowledge) and try to live according to the obvious commandments. Surely there are some passions regarding my reaction to the Mormons that need uprooting! Lord, help me! (Or perhaps we should invent a parable of the ‘Good Mormon’ helping others when those of the ‘correct’ faith pass by … !!)

But there is an imbalance here, I think, in terms of too much confidence in gnostic texts, and the idea that somehow the Old Testament canon as we know it is somehow suspect.

I try never to quote from her use of Gnostic texts, but to find alternatives. We do not need Gnosticism to learn about Orthodoxy, but I believe that Orthodoxy can contain most of Western Christendom and Gnosticism. Appealing to Gnosticism then can help to pull people away from the one-sidedness of the West to the balance of Orthodoxy, even if Gnosticism is one-sided on the other side!

The early Fathers also had doubts on the texts as used by the Jews, preferring the Septuagint. For example, the Hebrew Psalm 40:6 has “My ears You have opened”, but the LXX - based on a Hebrew manuscript - has “a body You have prepared for Me.” (Hbr 10:5). I once read a book in which the author said that it was possible that the LXX translators has misread the Hebrew. However, perhaps certain letters were changed by those who rejected Jesus. Is this not more plausible? What other things have been obscured?

There is also a somewhat disturbing focus on esoterica which inevitably leads one away from the fundamentals -- if I may use that term -- of Christianity -- a life of virtue in obedience to the commandments. Christ's teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, etc. While there are esoteric elements to Christ's life and teaching, one never wants to make this the absolute focus because this is when one inevitably backs into a kind of gnostic mysticism.

But the Fathers described spiritual visions etc but in no way did away with the commandments! I am sure she would agree. Sitting around trying to induce some spiritual state is a pathway to delusion. However, it is good to know where the commandments lead to - union with God!

A much better source I think is Origen himself -- his Biblical commentaries -- one can avoid his speculative theology if one wishes. Interestingly, in the 2d Century Origen is already correcting other Christians in terms of the true Hebraic meaning of certain Christian practices. An excellent text is Spirit and Fire, which is a thematic anthology of Origen compiled, with brief comments, by the Catholic scholar Hans Urs Von Balthasar.

She quotes from Origen also.

True gnosis according to the FAthers does not exist apart from obedience to His law. So when scholars focus on esoterica, absent this fundamental balance, look out! Even the most esoteric writings of the Orthodox Fathers are infused with obedience to the law as the common theme. Jewish scholars often accuse Christians of being antinomian. Which is an untrue, unfair criticism. Let's not make that mistake.

That is true, but obedience to God’s inner law certainly does exist without true knowledge of deification - look at the history of the West for the past 1,000 years - and the ‘western captivity’ of Orthodoxy.

Is it so wrong to assume the law and just concentrate on “that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us”? Numerous people ignore and deny any spiritual benefits and concentrate only on wrath, hell fire, and damnation, and that anything spiritual good can only happen to the saints, the rest of us being too sinful and totally deluded. This is indeed the impression some people have of certain types of Christianity!

But many thanks again.


#23 RichardWorthington


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Posted 28 September 2008 - 11:58 PM

now let us talk about the apple that God said Adam &Eve should not eat
what did God mean there

Dear Mr Kingsley,

Welcome to Monachos!

I do have indeed thought about how Genesis 3 could have a double meaning, but my 'alternative history' of Israel within Genesis (like an apocalyptic text) is much clearer with Cain and Lamech.

So I will put those thoughts down first for consideration as to my sanity, rather than things which I have convinced myself of, but which are probably in themselves not convincing!

Many thanks,


#24 Paul C.

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Posted 29 September 2008 - 04:40 AM

now let us talk about the apple that God said Adam &Eve should not eat
what did God mean there

Apple? In movies and commercials an apple was often used because no one has a spare 'fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil' to record on video film or DVD.

I know what you meant anyway.

#25 RichardWorthington


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Posted 02 October 2008 - 09:06 PM

We all know the story about Cain and Abel: Cain murders his brother, and is sent into exile. However, one of his descendents Lamech takes two wives and then sings a song about someone he has murdered. Fanciful interpretations abound! However, reading Genesis 4 as a ‘story-fied’ apocalyptic text based upon a real event regarding Cain and Abel (I’m not sure about Lamech’s existence) I think solves all the strange bits of the chapter. (Note, have a cup of tea with biscuits ready - long post ahead!)

Cain and his exile (Genesis 4:11-16)

First note that around the year 800BC, Zechariah the priest was murdered by his foster brother king Joash, and that this could well be linked to the story about Cain and Abel (see the post The other Cain). However, when Jerusalem fell the prophet Jeremiah lamented, "Should the priest and prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord?" (Lam 2:20) - in ways the whole of Israel are blamed for Zechariah’s death.

Now the name ‘Israel’ can refer to both the nation and its originator, Jacob/Israel. So similarly, reading ‘Cain’ as being the nation responsible for killing Zechariah (rather than as being king Joash) gives some very simple explanations to the cryptic sayings of Genesis chapter 4. Consider the following:

Gen 4:13 And Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is greater than I can bear!
Gen 4:14 "Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me."
Gen 4:15 And the LORD said to him, "Not so, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold." And the LORD set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.

Why be fearful of being killed? - according to Genesis the population of the world could well have been in single figures at the time! Why put a mark/sign on him?

The nation of Israel went into exile (about 586BC) - "east of Eden" (Gen 4:16), i.e. east of the Promised Land into Babylon, as a fugitive and vagabond. Those that went had a mark on their foreheads (symbolically and prophetically speaking, Ezek 9:4) - this was the letter Taw ‘ת’. However, in the Paleo-hebrew/Phoenician alphabet in use at that time this letter was written as ‘X’, although on the Proto-Canaanite alphabet Wikipedia site it is written as a ‘+’. The Christian sign of the Cross and the ‘X’ for Christ in Greek have a very ancient symbolism!

So to speak, this was an assurance to them that God had not forsaken them even though they were in captivity. They need not fear being killed. However, interestingly enough, someone was responsible for invading Israel and destroying Jerusalem - king Nebuchadnezzar. He killed ‘Cain’ - the Israelites who did not have repentance in their hearts and so were not marked with the sign of the cross. And so what about the vengeance being taken ‘sevenfold’ on Cain's murderer? When king Nebuchadnezzar exalted himself in pride, God made "seven times pass over" him, and he went mad for seven years (Daniel 4:32).

Cain and his family (Genesis 4:17-18)

Now in Gen 4:17 we read that Cain "built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son--Enoch". Now that the name ‘Enoch/Heb. Chanowk’ (Strong’s H2585) is the same name as the Enoch taken to heaven, and that it means ‘dedicated’ or ‘initiated’, can be learnt quite easily. However, an additional easy thing to do was to see how its related words are used in the Bible.

  • chanak (Strong’s H2596) "to train, dedicate, inaugurate"; this is the root word for the name ‘Enoch’. This is only used in 4 verses, significantly twice it is used of Solomon dedicating the Temple (1Kings 8:63 & 2Chr 7:5)
  • chanukkah (Strong’s H2598) "dedication, consecration". This is only used in 7 verses: 4 verses in Numbers chapter 7 regarding dedicating the altar to God, 2Chr 7:9 for the dedication of the Temple’s altar, Neh 12:27 regarding the dedication of the wall of the rebuilt Jerusalem, and Psalm 30:1 "A song at the dedication of the house of David".
  • chanukka' (Aramaic, corresponding to the above H2598, Strong’s H2597). This also only appears in 4 verses, significantly twice in Ezra 6:16-17 regarding the dedication of the rebuilt temple.
As such can I propose that if the ‘Cain’ of Genesis chapter 4 represents Israel, that the city ‘Enoch’ represents the rebuilt Jerusalem and its Temple after the end of the captivity?

Now if the city Enoch is Jerusalem rebuilt then things start to come together very well. The text then lists the names of the generations. It is interesting to compare them with the list of names in the genealogy of Adam in Genesis 5 (inspired by Wikipedia):

  [U]Seth’s Line[/U]  [U]Cain’s Line [/U]
1 Seth
2 Enosh        Cain
3 Cainan       Enoch
4 Mahalaleel   Irad
5 Jared        Mehujael
6 Enoch
7 Methuselah   Methuselah (LXX, Heb. Methushael)
8 Lamech       Lamech
9 Noah

Note how similar these two lines of descent are. Similar names have been interchanged in lines 2 & 3 and 4 & 5, and then appear the same names (in LXX; very similar in Heb.) in lines 7 & 8. As I am happy to take Genesis 5 as a genealogy passed down by word of mouth and taken as actual (if not, then why invent such numbers for their ages?), it would seem that the author of this genealogy wanted to make a point based on Noah’s genealogy.

Noah was the tenth from Adam. These would have been the ‘mythical pre-historical’ kings/priests of the world. Note that in the apocalyptic text of Daniel 7:24 the ten horns are ten kings, and so also Revelation 17:12; 12:3; 13:1. In the days of Noah rest would come (Gen 5:29), yet the Day of Atonement was also on the tenth day of the month heralding a "sabbath of rest" (Lev 16:29-31).

So in effect, the rebuilt Temple cult started off well with Cain’s son Enoch, implying that the first priest "walked with God" as did the Enoch who was taken to heaven, Gen 5:24. However, things then got in a mess and ended up with the seventh from Adam not being like the Enoch who was taken to heaven, but with Lamech. Yet this is not the Lamech who gave birth to Noah for our rest, but the Lamech who murdered someone (Gen 4:23).

And the list of the high priests from the rebuilding of the temple tallies with this (see Wikipedia, and Nehemiah 12:10-11): Joshua (=‘Enoch’), Joiakim, Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan. Now of course not all of the high priests were bad - some later on were clearly glorified by God. However, Eliashib (Neh 13) kept tithes from the Levites, and one of the sons of Joiada was chased out (Neh 13:28). But most significantly of all, Johanan killed his brother in the temple because he quarrelled and provoked him (Josephus ‘Antiquities of the Jews’, book 11, ch 7), just like Cain did, and Lamech claimed to have killed a man for wounding him (Gen 4:23). Therefore Johanan is like Lamech.

The Wives of Lamech (Genesis 4:19-24)

I’ll continue this bit in another post …

Many thanks for bearing with me. This stuff is a personal hobby of mine, and I find it fascinating. I just like to share it.


#26 RichardWorthington


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Posted 07 October 2008 - 09:04 PM

(continued from above; perhaps best to brew another tea?)

Gen 4:19 Then Lamech took for himself two wives: the name of one was Adah, and the name of the second was Zillah.

Now associating Lamech with the fifth high priest after the rebuilding of the Temple puts us in the same time range as the prophet Malachi. And, strangely enough, he talks about two wives as well:

Mal 2:11 Judah has dealt treacherously, and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem, for Judah has profaned the Lord’s holy institution which He loves: He has married the daughter of a foreign god.

So He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. Mal 2:14 Yet you say, "For what reason?" Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant.

Judah has dealt treacherously with the wife of his youth, and married the daughter of a foreign god.

Some brief history about the period: because the Kings of Judah and Israel married foreign women they were seduced into idolatry. After the return from captivity Israel were keen to avoid the same error, and so tried to enforce the rule that marriage must be between fellow Israelites. However, numerous people had intermarried, and it seems that the rulers were at times too harsh on people, forcing the foreign wives to leave. It is one thing to be strict with the rulers and ‘big people’ of the land, but when ordinary people have such strictness … you can imagine the feelings produced!

Now some think that these verses of Malachi are about these things. However, it is about the nation of Judah/Israel following foreign gods yet again! (What is idolatry without idols, if not monotheism, a denial of the Thrice-Holy One?) Instead of Judah "has married the daughter of a foreign god" (verse 11 above), the LXX translates it as Judah "has gone after other gods". And the phrase "wife of your youth" occurs only four times in the Bible: twice here in Malachi chapter 2, and then in Proverbs 5:18 and Isaiah 54:6.

Proverbs 5:18, "rejoice with the wife of your youth", occurs in the ‘Wisdom’ part of Proverbs, where the writer counsels us not to commit adultery with the ‘immoral woman’. Wisdom here is the same as the Word, through Whom "all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made" (John 1:3), for "The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; By understanding He established the heavens" (Prov 3:19). Therefore the ‘immoral woman’ is the ‘anti-Wisdom’, so to speak: the life of Jerusalem is no longer Lady Wisdom, but "the daughter of a foreign god".

Now Isaiah 54:5-6 reads as follows, "For your Maker is your husband, The LORD of hosts is His name; … For the LORD has called you like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, like a youthful wife (‘wife of youth’) when you were refused". The ‘wife of your youth’ is not a generic term for any woman, but for Lady Wisdom, now known as the Church, the Body of Christ the Word. She had been forsaken, so to speak, when Israel went into exile, but Her Husband seeks Her out within humanity.

(Also, Malachi 2:15 has been variously translated, but I think that looking for a link with Mother Wisdom/Church would give a better understanding, but I’ve waffled on enough for now on this!)

So how does this relate to ‘Lamech’ and his two wives? The name of the first wife mentioned is Adah (Strong’s Hebrew word H5711), which is the same consonantally as the next word, edah (H5712). What is the significance of this? This word means "congregation, gathering", and is translated into Greek as ‘synagogue’. It is also used in such phrases as the "congregation of Israel". As such, it is similar in usage to the word "church", as in Deut 31:30, "And Moses spoke in the ears of all the congregation(church) of Israel" (LXX), and these two words appear together in Proverbs 5:14, "in the midst of the church and synagogue" (LXX).

As such then the name of Lamech’s first wife is The Synagogue=The Church. His second wife Zillah means shade or shadow (H6741), as in the shadow of the law (if I may interpret!). So Israel at this time was split into those who followed God and those who did everything right according to the letter of the law, but who did not follow God in their hearts. The Book of Enoch describes this also:

Enoch 89:73 And they began again to build as before, and they reared up that tower, and it was named the high tower; and they began again to place a table before the tower, but all the bread on it was polluted and not pure. 74 And as touching all this the eyes of those sheep were blinded so that they saw not, and (the eyes of) their shepherds likewise; and they delivered them in large numbers to their shepherds for 75 destruction, and they trampled the sheep with their feet and devoured them.

The leaders (shepherds) in Jerusalem became blind (in Enoch 93:8 being blind is associated with forsaking Wisdom) and their offerings to God were polluted. Interestingly, "all the bread on it was polluted and not pure" would seem to mirror what Malachi says, "you offer defiled food on My altar" (Mal 1:7). So where were the good shepherds, who follow the Good Shepherd?

Adah had two children:

Gen 4:20 And Adah bore Jabal. He was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock.
Gen 4:21 His brother's name was Jubal. He was the father of all those who play the harp and flute.

Now who are those who "dwell in tents and have livestock", if not shepherds? And David was famed for playing music in his psalms, and also a Hebrew interlinear has "shepherd's-pipe" for "flute". In other words the true shepherds (=prophets and priests) were not those of the established temple worship. I will describe my thoughts on the names Jabal and Jubal later.

What about Lamech’s other wife?

Gen 4:22 And as for Zillah, she also bore Tubal; he was a smith, a forger of bronze and iron. And the sister of Tubal was Naamah. (LXX)

The names here are very significant. The Hebrew text names her son as ‘Tubal-Cain’ (H8423), which means ‘brought forth of Cain’ - and from what I have heard the fratricide amongst the high priestly families was higher than average! However, as can be seen, in the Septuagint his name is merely Tubal. (Therefore making the three sons’ names like a Hebrew version of "Tom, ****, and Harry"!) [****=automatic removal of the offensive shortened form of my own name Richard, i.e. D1ck - to try to get it round this problem!!]

Now I am indeed ignorant of Hebrew - and if I am right here then ignorance is perhaps one of the greatest attainments of my life!! Splitting Tubal-תובל we get ‘Tu-תו’ and ‘bal-בל’. So ignoring the vowel points, we get that ‘Tu-תו’ is a mark (H8420) - the same word is used in Ezekiel 9:4 for the sign of the cross, as mentioned in the previous post. ‘bal-בל’ is either the god ‘Bel-בל’ (H1078), which is a short form of ‘Baal -בעל’ (H1168), or a short form of "balal-בלל" meaning "confuse" (H1101). So the name Tubal may mean either ‘the mark of Bel/Baal’ or ‘the confused mark (of the cross)’. Either would indicate what Enoch and Malachi say above about the restored temple worship, that it was polluted and defiled. Tubal, being a forger of bronze and iron, is further linked to the temple because at an earlier restoration of the temple the text mentions "those who worked in iron and bronze to restore the house of the LORD" (2Chr 24:12).

Now his sister is called Naamah. This is a very significant name: it is also the name of the wife of King Solomon who was the mother of Rehoboam (H5279). So what? He was the king who taxed his subjects so severely that the northern kingdom of Israel split from the southern kingdom of Judah (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rehoboam). And it was during the high priesthood of Jaddua the son of Johanan that a new temple was built where one had stood in the old northern kingdom! (Josephus, Antiquities, Book 11, Chapter 8)

So what about the names Jabal and Jubal? Easy one - Jubal (H3106) is the same word consonantally as the word for ‘Jubilee’ (H3104), and Jabal (H2989) is merely a consonantally shortened form of this (my paper copy of Strong’s concordance - a weighty tome indeed! - has this shortened form listed with H3104=Jubilee).

Why would this be significant? Read the following:

… an article by Margaret Barker, 'The Time is Fulfilled: Jesus and Jubilee," in which she argues that the Melchizedek tradition found in 11Q13 was indeed known and used by Jesus. Her arguments in favor of this are twofold. First, dating Ezra's return to 428 B.C.E. and reckoning the commencement of Daniel's seventy weeks (ten Jubilees) with a Jubilee shortly after this dale, in 424 B.C.E., she shows that the end of the seventy' weeks would have been in the late 60s C.E., a calculation that coheres with a tradition in the Seder Olam, in the name of Rabbi Jose, which dates the end of Daniel's seventy weeks at the time of the destruction of the Second Temple in 66-68 C.E. A reckoning along these lines could have done much in the 60s to fuel the unrest that led to the Great Revolt. She also points out that by this understanding, the first week of the tenth Jubilee, which according 11Q13 is the time when Melchizedek is to return to proclaim release, comes roughly in 19-26 C.E., potentially close enough to the widely accepted date of the crucifixion of Jesus in 30 to raise the possibility that he saw himself' as the coming Melchizedek and commenced his ministry accordingly.

The Dead Sea Scrolls as Background to Postbiblical Judaism and Early Christianity: Papers from an International Conference at St. Andrews in 2001, By James R. Davila, Page 269; it is interesting to read the critique afterwards.

The Dead Sea Scroll 11Q13 is very interesting to read. http://www.gnosis.or...ary/commelc.htm

So here we see that the Ten Jubilees=Seventy ‘Weeks’=490 years start at about 424BC. (A Jubilee is 49 years.) Why mention this?

Gen 4:24 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold."

Seventy-sevenfold of years is the same time span as Ten Jubilees=490 years. So if Jabal and Jubal represent two jubilees, then does this mean that these events happened in the second jubilee? The fist Jubilee would be from 424BC to 376BC, making the second from 375BC to 326BC. And when did the high priest Jaddua live, in whose priesthood the Samaritan temple was built? Wikipedia says, "Jaddua, son of Johanan, ca. 371-320 BC". This is a very good overlap!

So having staked my sanity on this stuff, how am I doing? Will the men-in-white come for me? Not angels - but still men-in-white coming for to carry me ‘home’!! ;)


#27 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 09:08 PM

Dear Richard,

Have you some patristic orientantion for all this? I'm a little curious how you see this interrelating to a patristic approach to the materials. (i.e., I'd be interested to see some of the fathers you think convey some of what you're speculating.)

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#28 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 10:54 PM

Here are some comments on the Lamech of Genesis 4 (i.e. the descendent of Cain at the sixth generation; not the descendent of Seth, father of Noah, who is the Lamech of Genesis 5):

Augustine, City of God, Book 15, Chapter 20:

But in whatever manner the generations of Cain's line are traced downwards, whether it be by first-born sons or by the heirs to the throne, it seems to me that I must by no means omit to notice that, when Lamech had been set down as the seventh from Adam, there were named, in addition, as many of his children as made up this number to eleven, which is the number signifying sin; for three sons and one daughter are added. The wives of Lamech have another signification, different from that which I am now pressing. For at present I am speaking of the children, and not of those by whom the children were begotten. Since, then, thelaw is symbolized by the number ten—whence that memorable Decalogue,— there is no doubt that the number eleven, which goes beyond ten, symbolizes the transgression of the law, and consequently sin. For this reason, eleven veils of goat's skin were ordered to be hung in the tabernacle of the testimony, which served in the wanderings of God's people as an ambulatory temple. And in that haircloth there was a reminder of sins, because the goats were to be set on the left hand of the Judge; and therefore, when we confess our sins, we prostrate ourselves in haircloth, as if we were saying what is written in the psalm, My sin is ever before me. The progeny of Adam, then, by Cain the murderer, is completed in the number eleven, which symbolizes sin; and this number itself is made up by a woman, as it was by the same sex that beginning was made of sin by which we all die. And it was committed that the pleasure of the flesh, which resists the spirit, might follow; and so Naamah, the daughter of Lamech, means pleasure. But from Adam to Noah, in the line of Seth, there are ten generations. And to Noah three sons are added, of whom, while one fell into sin, two were blessed by their father; so that, if you deduct the reprobate and add the gracious sons to the number, you get twelve—a number signalized in the case of the patriarchs and of the apostles, and made up of the parts of the number seven multiplied into one another—for three times four, or four times three, give twelve. These things being so, I see that I must consider and mention how these two lines, which by their separategenealogies depict the two cities, one of earth-born, the other of regenerated persons, became afterwards so mixed and confused, that the whole human race, with the exception of eight persons, deserved to perish in the deluge.

St Basil the Great, Epistle 260 (to Optimus), section 5:

[NB: Much of this epistle deals with the question of Lamech, and the slaying of Cain]

5. Your next question is of a kindred character, concerning the words of Lamech to his wives; I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt: if Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold. (Genesis 4:23-24) Some suppose that Cain was slain by Lamech, and that he survived to this generation that he might suffer a longer punishment. But this is not the case. Lamech evidently committed two murders, from what he says himself, I have slain a man and a young man, the man to his wounding, and the young man to his hurt. There is a difference between wounding and hurt. And there is a difference between a man and a young man. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold. It is right that I should undergo four hundred and ninety punishments, if God's judgment on Cain was just, that his punishments should be seven. Cain had not learned to murder from another, and had never seen a murderer undergoing punishment. But I, who had before my eyes Cain groaning and trembling, and the mightiness of the wrath of God, was not made wiser by the example before me. Wherefore I deserve to suffer four hundred and ninety punishments. There are, however, some who have gone so far as the following explanation, which does not jar with the doctrine of the Church; from Cain to the flood, they say, seven generations passed by, and the punishment was brought on the whole earth, because sin was everywhere spread abroad. But the sin of Lamech requires for its cure not a Flood, but Him Who Himself takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29) Count the generations from Adam to the coming of Christ, and you will find, according to the genealogy of Luke, that the Lord was born in the seventy-seventh.

I note these two examples simply because they express something of both the historical and symbolical vision of Lamech and his circumstances as found in the fathers.

As to your specific posts, Richard, it is hard to know really where to begin. There are a number of points I would ask you to clarify so as to frame-in some means of commenting more specifically:

  • You associate the Lamech of Genesis 4 with 'the fifth high priest after the rebuilding of the Temple': why is this? You've provided some interesting readings of the genealogies that can be taken to support this, but only if it is taken as a given presupposition. In other words, the texts you've used themselves give no indication of this timeframe or context: where are you substantiating it with something?
  • You substantiate your reading of the wives of Lamech by suggesting a misreading of their names (עָדָה, Adah, and צִלָּה, Zillah), or at least of the first, based on other possibilities from the consonants used. However, this seems immensely unlikely, given the amount of commentary given the text in Jewish sources. (See for example the Midrash, which gives its whole commentary and interpretation of the wives based on the traditional meaning of Adah, namely 'the one who has been deposed'.) Have you any reason other than the wholly speculative to assume this misreading? (I can think of no source, in any context, that interprets עָדָה as meaning 'the synagogue'.)
  • Your interpretation of 'those who dwell in tents and have livestock' (Gen 4.20) as shepherds is quite common; but in combination with a note on Jabal and Jubal, you link this (via David) to the somewhat remarkable conclusion that 'the true shepherds (=prophets and priests) were not those of the established temple worship'. How do you link 'a' to 'b' in this context, without it simply being a case of 'proof texting' -- i.e. taking a text that has nothing inherently to do with an observation, and using it to support that observation in what is an interesting way, but one which doesn't necessarily have any warrant or connection to the text itself?
  • You suggest that the LXX's rendering of Zillah's son as Tubal, rather than the later Hebrew's Tubal-cain (which, I note, means 'blacksmith'), makes the names of the three sons 'like a Hebrew version of Tom, D1ck, and Harry'. I'm unclear what you mean by this.
  • You engage in some extremely fanciful speculations regarding the Hebrew of תּוּבַל, Tubal, the name of Zillah's son: splitting it apart into perceived roots. But I can see of no reason whatever to speculate a split root of 'sign' and 'bel/Baal', etc. -- i.e., interpreting it as in some sense indicating the sign of Baal or some confusion -- given that it is based on a rather clear root that means 'to produce, to bring forth'. Have you any reason to suppose what you suppose here?
  • Your reading of Tubal's sister, Naamah, solely connects her name to one that occurs elsewhere -- Solomon's wife -- and through him to his son, Rehoboam, thus appearing to indicate some connection to the division of the kingdom. Yet you seem to ignore the meaning of the name here (Naamah means 'Pleasure'), as well as the commentary given on that name in, for example, the Jewish Midrash (where it indicates the practice of 'taking pleasure in idols'). Apart from the fact that the name 'Naamah' occurs elsewhere in the scriptures (which is not at all uncommon, not inherently suggestive), have you any concrete justification for reading the name here as associated with the reign of Rehoboam?
  • For Jubal and Jabal, the fact that these are related seems to lead you to conclusion that they are essentially identical, both meaning 'Jubilee'. A couple of things here. Jubal and Jabal are clearly related, both built off the same root (ybl - to flow, bear forth); Jubilee may be related to these words (i.e. to the same root), but given that its meaning is 'ram's horn', or the sound of a trumpted/horn, even Strong notes this has to be guessed. Gesenius' lexicon assumes it is onomatopoetic. In any case, the idea that their names would indicate two Jubilees seems extremely unlikely: were this true, it would undoubtedly have been commented upon in some of the many ancient commentaries that focused on the jubilees. Whence do you ground this?
(The passages I have quoted at the front of this message provide a different perspective regarding the 'seventy-sevenfold of years', reflecting more widespread patristic interpretation.)

In general, it seems as if your writings are employing a kind of radical speculation, based on hypothesised alternative meanings of words that seems to both ancient Jewish and Greek interpreters as less oblique. As such, I'd like to know some of the grounding of what you're writing, so as to be able to comment on it more particularly.

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#29 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 07:51 AM

I forgot to mention yesterday that the basic hypothesis that the Lamech story -- drawing on Cain and Enoch -- articulates the segmented history of Israel and the Temple, seems to fly in the face of a much more central distinction that points in this direction: the three sons of Noah: Sem, Cham and Japheth. Within the text, even as the text is understood (quite rightly, I believe) to reflect the post-exilic narrative of history centred in Jerusalem, the distinction between the lines of Cain and Seth seems predominently to be concerned with confirming the varying lives, cultures and traditions of the human community (and this seems, above all, the paramount imagery of Lamech, his wives and children; the contexts of human existence this story describes, convey necessary background to understanding the whole context of the Exile). It is actually the three descendents of Noah who are taken to indicate the divided community within the chosen people proper - both by Jewish as well as patristic readers. (So it is, for example, that Japheth is directly connected to Christ by second-century AD writers, given that Japheth's 'enlargement' reflects the expanding embrace of the Church.)

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#30 RichardWorthington


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Posted 08 October 2008 - 10:54 AM

Dear Fr Dcn Matthew,

Thnak you so much for your time in replying. I do appreciate it. There is much to chew on. However, I have done some more searching on the infallible internet (!) regarding my idea that pishon was misread kishor. You wrote:

I had my own suspicions on your thesis in that post, that pishon was misread kishor - which I found improbable, but intriguing enough that I wanted to know more - I thought it best to give it to an expert.

Her response was this: that "this is the sort of possibility that would occur to a non-native speaker like you [she was referring to me], but not to a native. Those two words are as clear as you could want."

However, reading the footnotes to 1Chronicles chapter 1 does indeed show that misreadings can occur. I know you are not denying this, but I am merely trying to show where i am coming from.

I have found an example of where a final 'n' and 'r' are confused: Gibbar (Ezra 2:20) with Gibeon (Neh 7:25; there are also extra middle letters here).

While flipping through various genealogies (being the best source of transcription mistakes with easy verification) I did not find any examples of a 'k' and 'p' being confused, I did find these in a google search:


JSTOR: On the Interpretation of Hargas 57, 58, and 59
... error: beth for pe.13 In sum: On the basis of the above observations, ... pe has been misread as kaph (KWR for PWR) and yodh has been mistaken for waw ...
links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0018-2176(197007)38%3A3%3C243%3AOTIOH5%3E2.0.CO%3... - Similar pages
by SG Armistead - 1970

misreading of single letters are gimel and resh in Ex. 9, yod and ’ayin. in Ex. 11, úeth and samek in Ex. 18, pe and kaph in Exx. 20 and 21, ...
www.ingentaconnect.com/content/brill/vet/2002/00000052/00000004/art00004?crawler=true - Similar pages
by A Gelston - 2002 - Cited by 1 - Related articles - All 4 versions

I can not read the papers as you have to pay for them, but the brief summary in the google page looks promising, that 'k' and 'p' can be confused.

Therefore perhaps it is possible that 'Pishon' was misread for 'Kishor' (there is also a river Kishon in Israel, just for thought).

Many thanks,

#31 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 10 October 2008 - 08:49 AM

Dear Richard,

Yes, of course I acknowledge that misreadings can occur (and do, and can often be quite interesting when they do). However, understanding how they occur, and in what instances, and what might be a potential misreading and what mightn't, are skills that really come at quite a refined and nuanced level of understanding an ancient language - particularly one such as Hebrew, which to English-speaker seems so different that it is easy to 'see misreadings' everywhere. My own experience, in this language and in others, is that the less one knows about the language itself, the more one tends to see theoretical misreadings - which are often in fact a reflection of our own unfamiliarity with the language and script: the strangeness and foreignness of the language to the novice reader tends to cause one's own vaguery of understanding to promote a view that the text is more vague than it is (hence the response of my Hebrew-speaking associate on your theory of a confusion between Pishon/Kishor: "this is the sort of possibility that would occur to a non-native speaker like you [me], but not to a native"); or to take the simple physical shape of the script and of words, locate patterns based solely on that rather than on the communication of the language itself, and dissect it into new meanings (which is my basic query over your theories on עָדָה and תּוּבַל).

Two extremely simplistic examples:

In my handwriting, if I'm not paying attention, my lowercase 'r' and lowercase 't' are almost indistinguishable (best not to ask how... they just are!). It I were to write out the phrase, 'He gave the cat some food' and present it to a non-native speaker, it might be quite possible that 'cat' would appear 'car', and the phrase have an entirely different - though equally feasible, if mystifyingly bizarre - meaning. However, to a native English speaker, there would be little question at all. This I would compare to your theories on Pishon/Kishor, based on the response I've received from scholars, as well as my own reading (I realise the question of deciphering handwriting is something distinct; but I trust the general point comes across).

Similarly, attempting to locate deeper meanings simply by locating potential compounds and components in the physical shape of the script, can be drastically misleading to non-native speakers - and often is, in humorous ways. 'Catapult' has nothing to do with cats; 'disembark' has nothing to do with the outer skin of a tree; 'bowling' has nothing to do with a table place setting; etc. This is rather the sort of thing I suspect you're doing, however, with your theories on such names as עָדָה and תּוּבַל.

Classical (biblical) Hebrew is particularly confusing to potential readers, given that it is consonantal and compact: it tends to look like just a jumble of consonants essentially available as a free-for-all of potential readings and interpretations. It isn't, of course: it's a discrete language that communicates clearly within its own context. This doesn't mean it doesn't have vagueries and potential mishaps of writing and reading, which are common to all languages; but it does mean that with this language in particular, one has to become far more proficient and 'expert' in it than in some others, before one is able to discern such things effectively.

INXC, Deacon Matthew

#32 RichardWorthington


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Posted 01 February 2009 - 07:40 PM

Dear Fr Dcn Matthew,

Hmmm … I think it would be best for me to try to put across why I am writing these posts (apart from keeping me off the streets … !!)

For example, consider the following story:

Once upon a time there was a man called Seth, strengthened by God, who visited the amphitheatre. The trumpets sounded like thunder and great torches of fire flashed like lightening.

Then all types of animals came out. Oxen pulled the bronze carts on which the lions were mounted, and eagles soared overhead. The animals were all painted the colour of amber, like the sun at its height.

And behind the animals came the king. He was sitting over a huge blue cloth which seemed like the waves of the sea in the wind. His throne shone with sapphires, and he himself was robed in gold. Curved stripes of precious metals surrounded him, and those present worshipped him.

Now what would anyone make of this story (other than I am completely off my rocker!)? Perhaps the man of God ("Seth") went to denounce the error of emperor-worship?

Well, interestingly enough, the name Ezekiel means "God strengthens", and Seth is the son of Adam, like Ezekiel being called "son of man". And if you read the first chapter of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1) then you might see the similarities with the whirlwind, living creatures, firmament, and Christ’s throne!

Here it can be easily seen that my little story is a ‘story-fied’ reworking of Ezekiel’s vision because we have the original text for comparison. However, I am trying to test the idea that Genesis chapters 1 to 11 are actually an apocalyptic text that has been turned into a story. What originally was there was something like Ezekiel’s vision, but it has been hidden under the veneer of a story.

"historical and symbolical vision of Lamech" (post #28): Father Deacon, do you accept that Lamech was historical, with the implication that he lived about 3000 or 4000BC, about the time of the worldwide Flood? that before him there were no stringed instruments (Gen 4:21), and that the bronze age and iron age started around the same time as him (Gen 4:22)? I think I can rightly guess that you do not!!

Yet what is the alternative? Another endless thread on literal Genesis versus mainstream science and archaeology?

The only way I can test my idea that Genesis should read like an apocalypse is to see how well a ‘sensible’ apocalyptic reading of Genesis would fit into known Israelite history.

Have you some patristic orientantion for all this? I'm a little curious how you see this interrelating to a patristic approach to the materials. (i.e., I'd be interested to see some of the fathers you think convey some of what you're speculating.)

I think I can find something very close to this: see my next post on the ‘sons of God’ and the ‘daughters of men’!

Many thanks for all your comments,


#33 RichardWorthington


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Posted 21 February 2009 - 11:24 AM

Gen 6:1 NOW it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them,
Gen 6:2 that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.
Gen 6:3 And the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years."
Gen 6:4 There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

Were these ‘sons of God’ wicked children of Seth (‘Sons of God: Gen 6.1-4’ thread, post #3), or fallen angels (‘Nephilim (Genesis 6.4) - patristic commentary requested’ thread, post #5)? ‘Children of Seth’ does not seem to fit in with an obvious reading of the text, and ‘fallen angels’ poses a bigger problem: sexual attraction only exists amongst physical beings.

Or maybe there is another interpretation: the actual kings of ancient Israel were these very same ‘sons of God’, and this story is describing the corruption in pre-exilic Judaism based upon the temple visions of ‘pre-history’.

Well, this might not seem as far fetched as it sounds (hint: a few shots of vodka might help to explain this if I fail!):

  • The kings of Israel were called the ‘sons of God’ (a foreshadowing of Christ, the Son of God and true King of Israel):

    Psalm 89:18 For our shield belongs to the LORD, And our king to the Holy One of Israel. …
    Psalm 89:26 He shall cry to Me, 'You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.'
    Psalm 89:27 Also I will make him My firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth.

    Psalm 2:6 "Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion."
    Psalm 2:7 "I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You"

    2Sam 7:14 "I will be his Father, and he shall be My son"

  • "the sons of God saw the daughters of men … and they took wives for themselves": by ‘daughters of men’ could be meant those wives of foreign peoples (thus contrasted with Israel, ‘sons of God’):

    1Ki 11:1 But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites-- …
    1Ki 11:4 For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods

    1Ki 16:30 Now Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him.
    Ki 16:31 … he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him.

  • "his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.": There are two interesting dates relating to this phrase:

  • In 722 BC the northern kingdom of Israel fell (http://en.wikipedia...._the_Israelites)
  • In 701 BC (when Hezekiah became ill), the prophet Isaiah prophesised the destruction of Jerusalem, " ‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the LORD." (Isa 38:1 & Isa 39:6; see also http://en.wikipedia....ological_issues)
Now progressing 120 years after these two dates (i.e. subtract 120 as the years are BC) yields 602 BC and 581 BC respectively. And what event happened close to these dates? Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon pillaged the temple twice - "once in 597 BCE, and again in 586 BCE, after which he destroyed it" (http://en.wikipedia....and_destruction). In both cases we are only 5 years out; indeed, if it is significant, the average date between 602 BC and 581 BC is 591(.5) BC - which is exactly the same average date between 597 BC and 586 BC!!
Thus far I think we can easily see a plausible connection between Genesis 6:1-4 and the events of Israel’s exile, except for one thorny problem: if these things are related to pre-exilic corruption in Israel, then who or what on earth are the giants?!?

Interestingly enough Enoch states the following about the ‘giants’:

1 And all the others [angels] together with them took unto themselves wives, and each chose for himself one, and they began to go in unto them and to defile themselves with them, and they taught them charms 2 and enchantments, and the cutting of roots, and made them acquainted with plants. And they 3 became pregnant, and they bare great giants, whose height was three thousand ells: Who consumed 4 all the acquisitions of men. And when men could no longer sustain them, the giants turned against 5 them and devoured mankind. And they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and 6 fish, and to devour one another's flesh, and drink the blood. Then the earth laid accusation against the lawless ones.

Chapter 7, http://reluctant-mes...ok_of_enoch.htm

The giants "consumed all the acquisitions of men": could this be a reference to sacrificing to idols? The Israelites certainly made their sons "pass through the fire to Molech" (Jer. 32:35) - "devoured mankind", so to speak? Indeed, later on in the Book of Enoch we read that the giants "assuming many different forms are defiling mankind and shall lead them astray into sacrificing to demons as gods" (19:1, where the giants are referred to as spirits, as in 15:8, "the giants, who are produced from the spirits and flesh, shall be called evil spirits"). "Sacrificing to demons as gods": is this not what idolatry is?

Indeed, the ‘giants’ of Gen 6:4 (Nephilim, H5303) only appear again in Numbers 13:33, "There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight". The inerrant Wikipedia mentions that "Anak could be related to the Sumerian god Enki" (although at present a citation is needed - truly inerrant!), in which case perhaps the term ‘Anakim’ - and so also ‘Nephilim’ - could refer to the worshippers of false gods. The idols in the temple would then be termed these false gods, as Israel had fallen into the worship of the local deities. The 'giants' are then the idols which came with the foreign wives of the Kings of Israel, i.e. the 'offspring' of their marriage.

And finally, to help us place the destruction of the giants before the Flood, Isaiah helpfully mentions that the destruction of Israel is "like the waters of Noah to Me" (Isa 54:9). What a perfect way to get rid of the giants and idols: by a flood of water and a flood of Babylonians!

Have you some patristic orientantion for all this? I'm a little curious how you see this interrelating to a patristic approach to the materials. (i.e., I'd be interested to see some of the fathers you think convey some of what you're speculating.)

Well, if ‘fathers’ can refer to someone commemorated in the Church’s calendar (on Sept 28), then Baruch the scribe of Jeremiah writes the following:

24 Ah Israel, how great is the house of God, and how extensive is the place of its estate!
25 It is great and has no end; it is high and immeasurable.
26 The giants were born there, those renowned, those of old, seeing that they were large, experts in war.
27 Not these did Cod choose, nor did he give them the way of knowledge,
28 and they perished because they had no insight; they perished through their recklessness.

Baruch chapter 3, http://ccat.sas.upen...arouch-nets.pdf

Now Baruch was with Jeremiah at time of temple’s destruction, and the word ‘temple’ in Hebrew is simply ‘house’. So my question is this: what are the same giants of Genesis 6:4 ("those renowned, those of old") doing in the "house (i.e. temple) of God" around 600BC? Does what I have written above tie in with this passage? Is this sort of ‘patristic’?!?

However, if you, Deacon Matthew, would like me to reply to your points in post #28 then I would be happy to do so, but I imagined trying to illustrate my direction of thought would help to elucidate things anyway.


Edited by RichardWorthington, 21 February 2009 - 11:40 AM.
1) Adding a clarifying link sentence about the giants and foreign wives, and 2) then correcting a mistake in it!

#34 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 21 February 2009 - 01:33 PM

I don't really have the time to get too far into these speculations; but I think that much of what I would have to say would be summed up in the fact that there are numerous Fathers who exegete the 'sons of God' in this passage (Genesis 6.4 and surrounding) as the offspring of women made pregnant by men possessed by fallen angels (demons); and there is a host of patristic and other literature on the outcome of these unions, including the 'magical' knowledge passed on to their offspring by these demonic unions.

I cannot think of any of the speculations you put forward as being supported by the patristic heritage. It sounds rather more like the standard stock of the so-called 'Temple Theology' movement.

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#35 RichardWorthington


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Posted 22 February 2009 - 12:15 PM

Dear Deacon Matthew,

Thank you for taking the time to reply thus far. There are a few points which I - and probably other people interested in the 'sons of God' issue - would love to have clarified.

there are numerous Fathers who exegete the 'sons of God' in this passage (Genesis 6.4 and surrounding) as the offspring of women made pregnant by men possessed by fallen angels (demons)

I have never read this in any passage of the fathers: I went to my university library and was able to find such commentaries (Ambrose, John Chrysostom, Ephraim the Syrian). I don't think Fr Seraphim Rose in his summary on this passage mentions such a patristic option. As such, I was under the impression that 'sons of God' was either 'sons of Seth' turned to wickedness, or true non-physical fallen angels.

Would you be able to produce references?

Having 'demon possessed' men as the 'sons of God' certainly would solve the sexual attraction problem of non-physical beings, although this does produce other problems. Men still can be demon possessed, and engage in sexual intercourse: yet such offspring would hardly be classed as giants, just normal human beings. So how could their offspring be classed as 'giants'?

and there is a host of patristic and other literature on the outcome of these unions, including the 'magical' knowledge passed on to their offspring by these demonic unions.

The 'infallible' Wikipedia states that, "The earliest known Paleolithic shaman(c. 30,000 BC) was female", although a good reference is provided. As this was numerous millennia before Adam is supposed to have lived, how do you reconcile the dates of Genesis for when the giants lived and such archaeological evidence for magical knowledge?

Additionally, did Noah's Flood wipe them all out, i.e. was Noah's Flood global?

It was partly in response to such 'genesis' versus 'mainstream science' that I started to see if Genesis could be read like the Book of Revelation. (For example, Orthodox Christians do accept the findings that Revelation also encodes the history of Israel just before the fall of the second temple: Fr Seraphim Rose mentions some of these in his book on Revelation. I am merely trying to do the same for Genesis, which would make certain aspects of a literal interpretation suspect as certain statements might refer to the history of Israel instead.)

I cannot think of any of the speculations you put forward as being supported by the patristic heritage. It sounds rather more like the standard stock of the so-called 'Temple Theology' movement.

Fair point: having heard Dr Margaret Barker speak - and seeing that the ancient texts she quoted were referring to deification - I instantly saw the deep and unbreakable link between temple theology and Orthodox spirituality. It makes transparent the fact that the Orthodox Faith is the continuation of the spirituality of the Israelite prophets. But as you disapprove of such a 'Temple Theology' then I shall not be putting my thoughts down here any more, although I will provide a hyperlink if I do find somewhere else to put them.

Many thanks,


Edited by RichardWorthington, 22 February 2009 - 12:16 PM.
minor clarification

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