LOGOS = Christ = “Word of God” (Sometimes)

Take multiple uses of the same word in the English Bible, mix together with a limited understanding of the original language, and confusion will likely ensue.

Sometimes the LOGOS in John chapter 1 is too readily equated with the Word of God (i.e., the Bible).  However, the Bible is not Jesus, nor Jesus the Bible; rather, the Bible expresses God’s message, his will, and his person to us, much as Christ himself did in his Incarnation.

LEGEIN, the infinitive (verb) that is cognate of LOGOS, did not originally mean, “to say,” but in NT Koine Greek is used interchangeably with the several other verbs.  Previously, LOGOS had to do with reason/rationality and meaning, and was applied by Plato and other Greek philosophers to what we would today call an Intelligent Designer behind the universe.  Plato and the Stoics considered this world to be not reality, but a pale reflection of a greater, if you will:  “spiritual” reality.

Alexandrian Jew Philo loved Greek philosophy, principally Plato and the Stoics, and sought to resolve Hebrew revelation with it, and vice versa.  He postulated a divine idea of a perfect man in heaven, which he called the Logos, of which earthly man is an imperfect reflection.  Yet this Logos figure is the expression of God, from his ultimate Reason.  (Relatable to the concept of man as “made in the image of God.”)

It would seem that John in chapter 1 of his Gospel had Philo’s idea in mind when he introduced Christ as the divine Logos, present with God in Creation, who, as “the only begotten Son [of God],” and who “was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” represents the ultimate expression of God’s Reason, such that Christ is “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” and moreover, “full of grace and truth.”  Embodying as Christ does the plenitude of the Father’s glory, “of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.”

Therefore (to come full circle), LOGOS also came to mean the expression of the rationality, even essence, of the person speaking or writing (human or divine), and LEGEIN the act of conveying that reason or essence.  In such way, divine revelation (Scripture), as the expression of God toward man, has been rightly deemed the LOGOS, that is, “the Word of God.”

© 2013 Paul A. Hughes


From Autographs to King James Version:

Original King James Version Dedicatory Page

Original King James Version Dedicatory Page

A Short History of Bible Translation

Few American Christians today realize the great gift from God we have in the English Bible.  To do so, we must know some of its history.

Prehistoric Records

From earliest times, men of God have foreseen the value of writing down God’s dealings with men.  P. J. Wiseman (1888-1948), who conferred with many of the great archaeologists of his day, theorized that the earliest Scriptures, from the Creation to Abraham, were first written on clay tablets in cuneiform(the writing of Abraham’s native land).  See “Who Wrote Genesis?  A Third Theory” by the author.

Fictionalized pagan versions of Creation and the Flood, with some similarities to the Bible, have been dug up in ancient Mesopotamia (Babylon or Chaldea).  In fact, many thousands of clay tablets have been found which are yet to be translated.

Scripture from Abraham to Moses

The Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) evidently kept family records, including stories and genealogies (family trees).  Joseph, who became Pharoah’s right-hand man, probably wrote down his own story, and preserved it along with the others for his people during their captivity in Egypt.

One tradition holds that Moses wrote Genesis, along with his other books.  This theory assumes that Genesis was dictated to him by God on Mount Sinai.  However, Genesis is the only one of the traditional Books of Moses (Genesis-Deuteronomy) that does not identify Moses as its author.

The prevailing theory among liberals, usually referred to as JEDP, claims that the Books of Moses originated as religious myths which were strung together in patchwork fashion after Israel’s return from Babylon.  However, it is likely that Israel knew their history throughout their long sojourn in Egypt, which helped preserve them as the distinct People of God.

Nevertheless, it is highly possible that it was Moses who finally compiled Genesis into a single book.

The Old Testament in Greek

Over the next millennium (1400-400 B.C.), inspired Scripture was written down by:

  • Prophets (Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.).
  • Rulers (David, Solomon, Nehemiah).
  • Scribes or historians (Kings, Chronicles, Judges, Ruth, Esther, Ezra).

Many scholars think that the Old Testament, as we know it, was finally assembled by the great scribe Ezra.

Ancient scribes soon recognized the value of providing the Hebrew Scriptures to others in a language they could understand.  For most of the world, the common language of trade and foreign correspondence was Greek, much as English is today.

There were at least four ancient translations of the Old Testament into Greek, but only one still exists today:  the Septuagint (meaning “seventy”).  According to legend, in about 250 B.C., Ptolemy II of Egypt wished to add a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures to his great library at Alexandria, one of the seven wonders of the world.

Ptolemy commissioned either 70 or 72 Jewish scribes, six from each tribe of Israel, to make the translation.  To this day, references to this Greek version are abbreviated by the Roman number LXX (“seventy”).

Since many Old Testament quotations in the New Testament agree perfectly with the Septuagint, many experts think that the apostles, especially Paul, often used the Septuagint in preaching and writing to Greek audiences.

The New Testament Books

The New Testament was written by:

  1. Disciples of Jesus (Matthew, John, Peter).
  2. Some of their students and companions (Mark, Luke).
  3. But most of all by Paul.

The earliest books were probably Paul’s letters (epistles) which he wrote to keep in touch with various churches, beginning about A.D. 46-50.  However, some scholars believe that a collection of Jesus’ sayings, called “Q” (short for German quelle, “source”) might have been written earlier and used in writing the gospels.  The author of Hebrews is uncertain.  The last book to be written was probably the Revelation of John.

The amazing thing about the “Q” theory is that it might have originated from somebody who sat listening to Jesus’ teaching, then wrote down the deep teachings he heard.

The Bible Books Preserved

Early on, the churches recognized the value of the writings of those they recognized as apostles (literally “those sent on a mission”).  They preserved their writings and even sent copies to other churches.  Over the centuries to follow, both Jewish and Christian scribes labored hard to faithfully copy their respective Scriptures.  This was done in ink, on either papyrus(made from Egyptian rushes) or parchment (leather).

None of the originals (“autographs”) of the Bible books still exist today.  We do have some very old copies, however.  Some New Testament fragments go back as far as A.D. 200, and many more exist from the third or fourth century.  And when an almost complete copy of Isaiah was discovered near the Dead Sea from around 200 B.C., only a few letters were found to differ from much later copies.

Translating the Bible

By the fourth century after Christ, the Roman Empire had become a Greek Christian empire based in Constantinople (now Istanbul).  But most of the people from Rome west spoke Latin, not Greek.

Jerome (lived about A.D. 347-420) set himself the task of translating the Bible into Latin.  He translated the gospels, but was persecuted for “changing” Scripture. He found it wise to move to Bethlehem, where he taught himself Hebrew in order to translate the Old Testament.

Jerome’s work, together with that of other translators, became known as the Vulgate, the official Catholic version.  The Vulgate can be useful in translating the Bible today, by re-translating it into Greek or Hebrew, since it predates most of the Bible manuscripts still in existence.

Efforts to get the Bible into the vernacular (the language of the people) have continued since Jerome.  The Roman Church long considered Bible translation dangerous, since heresies could evolve.  In the wake of the recent events in Waco, this fear is not unfounded.  But without Scripture, the common people walked in ignorance, superstition, and subservience to Church authorities.

The Bible in English

One of the earliest English versions was that of John Wycliffe (1328-1384).  The Roman Church vowed to burn him at the stake, but was cheated when he died of natural causes.  Many years later, the Church dug up his bones and burned them.

Martin Luther (1483-1546) fueled his Reformation with his German New Testament, published in 1522.  Then he spent twelve years translating the Old Testament from available Hebrew texts, the Septuagint, and the Vulgate.  The whole Bible was published in 1534.

In 1525, with Luther’s help, William Tyndale was able to produce his English New Testament.  Tyndale’s notes often attacked Church authorities. He was burned at the stake in England in 1536.

Miles Coverdale (1488-1569) was a former friar turned Protestant who produced the Coverdale Bible (1535), possibly with the permission of Henry VIII.  He later edited the Great Bible (1539) and helped with Thomas Cranmer’s Bible (1540).  But Coverdale was still persecuted for heresy.  Cranmer (1489-1556), Archbishop of Canterbury, was burned at the stake by Queen Mary.  See “Politics and Religious Liberty in 17th-Century England” by the author.

The Geneva Bible was published in 1560 by followers of John Calvin in Geneva, Switzerland.  This Bible, printed in English, contained extensive notes expounding Calvinistic doctrine, frowned upon by many other groups.  It was also the first Bible to be printed with chapter and verse divisions.

The Geneva Bible became known as the “Breeches Bible,” because it referred to the High Priest’s “apron” as “breeches.”  Likewise, a 1551 edition of the Bible came to be called the “Bug Bible” because of its translation of Psalm 91:5, “Thou shalt not be afraid of any buggies by night . . .” .

In 1568, French scholars produced the Douay Bible for Catholics, a translation of the Vulgate into English.  In the same year, bishops of the Church of England produced an official translation for use in their churches.  The “Bishops’ Bible” remained a popular Bible version even after the King James Version appeared in 1611.

The King James Version

The Bishops’ Bible and other translations came to be criticized, especially by the Puritans, for not being true to the better Greek and Hebrew manuscripts available.  A new translation was proposed. It was to be a non-sectarian, mainstream version, containing no controversial notes like the Tyndale and Geneva Bibles.

With the permission of King James I, from 52 to 54 scholars were gathered from the English universities.  One tradition, yet unproven, holds that one of these men was none other than William Shakespeare.  These scholars were divided into several teams, each of which was assigned part of the Bible.  The Bishops’ Bible was used as the basis for the new version.  Changes were only to be made when warranted by the best Hebrew and Greek manuscripts available.

After three years’ labor, what these men produced was of course the King James Version.  Few Protestants today realize that the original King James Version included the Apocrypha, the so-called “Catholic” books.  The Apocrypha includes such books as 1 & 2 Maccabees, 1 & 2 Esdras (also called 3 & 4 Ezra), Judith, Bel and the Dragon (a fanciful tale about Daniel), Tobit, Susanna, and Ecclesiasticus.  All of these books were written later than the Old Testament books.  The Puritans objected to the Apocrypha on the grounds that they had never been included in the Hebrew canon.  The first edition of the King James Bible which did not include the Apocrypha was printed in 1620, and became the standard.

Though many Christians today complain they cannot understand the Elizabethan English, the King James Version is still recognized as an extremely balanced and literal translation, its beauty of expression unsurpassed.

©1994 Paul A. Hughes.  Originally published in
The Polk County Enterprise
, March 13, 1994, p. 3B.


Toward a Theology of the Exaltation of Christ

Christ Exalted (Public Domain)

Christ Exalted (Public Domain)

A Proposal for Further Study

Previously published in Christ in Us:  The Exalted Christ and the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit (2007), ISBN 978-0-615-13840-4.

In a review of Dr. Delmer Guynes’ book, The Gospel of the Ascension, I asserted that the doctrines of the Ascension and Exaltation of Christ were central to Pentecostal theology, and “should rank alongside the Incarnation and the Atonement.”1 Put briefly, God performed these works in and through Jesus, they are essential to the very nature and existence of the Church, and they provide for the dispensation of spiritual gifts throughout the Church Age.

Jesus’ Ascension and his Exaltation to the right hand of the throne of God were divine works of meaning and power beyond human comprehension. Yet we can and should derive great meaning, truth, and application from these acts, as we do from the Incarnation, Atonement, Transfiguration, etc. Not only are the works of Christ in his Exaltation important in themselves, but they have direct bearing upon such Pentecostal distinctives as the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, and divine healing. With a view toward the refinement and expansion of Pentecostal theology, I would like to delineate the subject while proposing areas for further study.

Where Ascension Ends and Exaltation Begins

How are the Ascension and the Exaltation to be delineated? In common usage, the terms seem synonymous. But “ascension” is obviously the act of ascending, and “exaltation” the act of exalting oneself or being exalted. While the meanings might overlap, they are not synonymous.

Practically and, I think, Biblically speaking, the Ascension is the act or process of Jesus acquiring his glorified body, receiving all the power and authority given him by the Father, and realizing in every other way the state of continuing exaltation which was always his birthright. In other words, the Ascension is to be thought of as the act of Jesus acceding to his Exaltation.

I posit the Ascension not as an act distinct from or preliminary to the Exaltation but as an initiatory or activating phase. Moreover, the Exaltation can be considered an ongoing process even today, in that not yet have all things been put under Christ’s feet,2 and He is to be still more glorified in end-time events.3

Many details remain a mystery. When does the Ascension begin and end? Does it begin with his atoning death on the cross, or even earlier; or with his resurrection from the tomb? Some count the purported visit of Jesus to hell as an Ascension event.4 But Jesus seems to announce a forthcoming Ascension to Mary in the garden,

    Do not keep clinging to me; I have not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God” (John 20:17).

Jesus appears the same evening to the disciples. He is touched by them and they eat together as he meets with them for forty days. He is in his glorified body: He is not bound by space, time, or locked doors. But He has yet to take his place at the right hand of God in the awesome glorified state in which he later appeared to Stephen (Acts 6-7), Paul (Acts 9:1-6), and John (Rev. 1:10-18). It would seem that He remained in some phase of the Ascension process and had not yet fully apprehended Exaltation.5

The Changing Position of Christ

Scripture makes it clear that Christ was present with God before Creation, that the world was made by or through him, and that it was made for his possession and his purpose. Within this context, however, a hierarchy clearly exists. The Son is always voluntarily in submission to God the Father, as is the Holy Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit is the instrument of Creation and the mode by which God’s will is enacted, He must be subject both to the Father and the Son.6 Therefore, that original hierarchy within the Godhead must have been Father / Son / Holy Spirit.

When Christ became incarnate, He did not lay down his divinity; but taking on the weakness of humanity, He apparently laid down for the time being his functional position in the hierarchy. Jesus voluntarily subjected himself not only to the Father but to the Holy Spirit, being “made a little lower than the angels” (Heb. 2:7, 9) and emptying himself of all reputation (Phil. 2:6-8). While in the flesh, Jesus spoke only the words of the Father and did only the works of the Father, empowered by the Holy Spirit through voluntarily subjecting himself to him.7 In a functional sense, the hierarchy had become Father / Holy Spirit / Son.

With the Ascension and Exaltation the hierarchy is restored; but even more, Christ has done a marvelous work in exalting his Church within himself or under his authority. He now spiritually empowers his Church by the Holy Spirit in much the same way as He himself was empowered in his earthly ministry. One might conceive of a new, enhanced hierarchy, Father / Son / Holy Spirit / Church.

The Exaltation in John’s Gospel

To John, Christ is the Word (logos, the wisdom, Reason, or order behind the universe) who was “with God” and “was divine” (John 1:1).8 “All things were made through him, and nothing that was made was made without him” (1:3; see also Eph. 3:9-12, Col. 1:16-19).

Jesus declared to his disciples that “he who believes in me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go to my Father” (14:12). This idea is directly linked to it being “expedient that I go away; for if I do not go away, the [other] Comforter [like myself] will not come to you. But if I depart, I will send him to you” (16:7; insertions mine, see 14:16).9 For the Church to be empowered, Christ must go to the Father.

Why was it necessary for Christ to depart in order for the Holy Spirit to come in his fulness? Scripturally, it is God’s plan to make Christ the Head of the Church and the giver of the Holy Spirit. In his incarnate body, however, He was the Christ in person but was finite, limited by the flesh. To perform his greater work, He must be exalted to the right hand of the Father’s throne, where all God’s power is committed unto him.10 Christ is empowered by God in order to empower others through the Holy Spirit.

In John, the power is God’s, the authority and message is Christ’s, and the medium for the transmission of God’s power is the Holy Spirit.

The Exaltation Present Throughout Scripture

The Exaltation of Christ is one of the most frequently recurring themes in Scripture. In Daniel, the Messiah is “a stone cut without hands” (2:34) who is “given dominion, glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and tongues might serve him” (7:14).

In Psalm 118:22, He is the stone which was rejected but “has become the head of the corner” (see also Isaiah 8:14-15, 28:16).

Psalm 110:1, “The Lord (YHWH) said unto my Lord (adonai),11 `Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool'” is quoted in Matthew 22:44, Mark 12:36, Luke 20:42-43, Acts 2:34-35, and Hebrews 1:13. Christ is also declared to be positioned at the right hand of God in three Gospels, Acts, Romans, Ephesians, Colossians, Hebrews, and 1 Peter.12

In Romans, Christ was freed from the dominion of death, and now lives unto God (6:4-11), interceding for his own at God’s right hand (8:34).

In 1 Corinthians, Christ is the foundation of his Church (3:11). Christians are to be subject to Christ, as He is to God (3:23, 6:20, 8:6, 11:3). Spiritual gifts flow to the “body” through the Holy Spirit, “dividing to each person individually” (12:11). God is the source of spiritual gifts (12:6, 18, 24, 28) but Christ is the reason (12:12, 27). Christ will one day subject all other powers and “all things” (ta panta)13 to himself and turn them over to God (15:24-28).

In Ephesians, all things (ta panta) are consummated in Christ (1:10). God has seated him at his right hand above all rulers and authority (1:20-23). The Christ who descended also ascended in order to “fill” (plerose) “all things” (ta panta, 4:10).

In Philippians, God has exalted Christ, giving him a name at which every knee must bow (2:9-11). One day, Christ will by his authority transform our mortal bodies (3:21).

In Colossians, all Creation is made by and for Christ. He is the “head” (kephale)14 of the Church and embodies all “fulness” (pleroma) (1:16-19). Christ is the “head” of all rule and authority, and in him all the “fulness” of deity dwells (2:9-10).

While not intended to be exhaustive, this list demonstrates the pervasive and ubiquitous nature of the Exaltation theme.

In the Pattern of Ephesians 4:7-16

The process by which the exalted position of Christ is made manifest through spiritual gifts in the Church seems most explicit in this passage.

Paul begins by using Psalm 68:18 to illustrate the process of exaltation (4:8).15 The same Jesus who descended to earthly existence is the same One who then ascended above the heavens. The reason He ascended is in order to “fill all things” and to dispense gifts to his Church (4:7, 8, 11).

These gifts are expressed here as persons who are spiritually gifted to fulfil the offices of the Church (4:11).16 The purpose of the gifts are “the equipping of the saints” (4:12) and “that we might no longer be children” (4:14). The results of the gifts are to include service, edification, unity, knowledge of Christ, and maturity, achieving ultimately a “mature man” who somehow compares to the “fullness (pleromatos) of Christ” (4:13-15).17 Throughout this process, each member is to be “supplied” by Christ through the working of the Spirit in and through the “body,” the Church (4:16).18

The “Fullness” of Christ

The study of the Exaltation of Christ will necessitate a thorough examination of Paul’s use of the term “fullness” (pleroma).

Fullness and such cognates as “fill,” “full,” “fulfill,” etc., permeate Paul’s writings. These are general terms entirely dependent upon their context, but in Paul they are sometimes theologically loaded. For example, the sense is possible that the “body of Christ” (the Church) is being filled by the One who is himself already full (Ephesians 1:23, 3:19; cf. Col. 2:10).19

Spiritual Gifts (Charismata)

A theology emphasizing the Exaltation will necessitate an examination of spiritual gifts and gifting in that light. For instance, is divine healing, which “is provided for in the Atonement,”20 (1) automatic to every Christian (i.e., “divine health”); (2) a charismatic gift, as Paul teaches; or (3) both?

I propose that the gifts are provided (i.e. won, earned, established, etc.) through the Atonement, administered by Christ in his position of Exaltation, and dispensed through the Holy Spirit in the form of charismata (1 Cor. 12:9, 28, 30).

The Exaltation in the Head/Body Metaphors

Paul uses numerous metaphors to illustrate Christ’s relationship to his Church, in which Christ is the figurative “head” with the Church as his “body.” Paul, of course, often mixes his metaphors and terminology. But one might construct a synthesis of the head/body metaphors as follows:

Christ, as the “head” (“ruler”, arche) of Creation, of all rule and authority, and of the Church, is also the authoritative and functional “head” (kephale): the leader, master, and controller of the “body.” He is able, as the authority over the body, and as the power of the universe, to provide for his Church in all things according to its needs (Eph. 1:22-23, 4:7-10; Col. 1:18, 2:10, 19).

As exalted Lord and ruler of the Church, Christ has joined it unto himself. He maintains perfect beneficence toward the Church, as a husband (“head” of the family) should his wife, wishing to nourish, cherish, and protect it (1 Cor. 11:3, Eph. 5:23).

He accomplishes this by providing “gifts” to the Church, spiritually endowed but materially manifested among the individual believers.21 These gifts are diversely distributed and serve to complement one another, as the various parts of a physical body cooperate to serve the whole (Rom. 12:3-18, 1 Cor. 12:12-30, Eph. 4:7-16, Col. 2:19). Thus the “head” serves the “body,” controlling it but also providing for it.

The supreme irony is that Christ is exalted Lord, yet He deigns with profound patience to serve the lowliest of those whom He rules.

Conclusion

A realization of the centrality and universality of Christ’s Exaltation is essential to correct interpretation of Scripture. Much more study and application of this scriptural truth is needed on a broad base. But hopefully, this emphasis might in the future open many doors to the expansion, propagation, refinement, and in some cases correction, of Pentecostal doctrine.

NOTES

  1. Paul A. Hughes, review of Delmer R. Guynes, The Gospel of the Ascension (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Calvary Church Press, 1986), in Paraclete 26 (Fall 1992):30.
  2. Hebrews 2:8, cf. 1 Corinthians 15:25.
  3. See Daniel 7:13-14, Revelation 1:10-18, 14:14.
  4. The popular doctrine that Jesus descended into hell while his body lay in the tomb, where He preached the gospel to lost souls, “led captivity captive,” and took from Satan the keys to hell and the grave, does not necessarily stand up to close exegetical scrutiny. In Ephesians 4:9, “the lower parts of the earth” to which Jesus descended before ascending (to heaven) need not refer to hell but to the tomb or, more likely, earthly existence. In 1 Peter 3:19-20, Christ via the Holy Spirit “preached to the spirits in prison” through Noah, the implication being not that Jesus preached during his 3 days in the tomb to those who had died in the Flood and were now in hell, but that He had already preached to them through Noah before the Flood. “The keys of Hades and of Death” (Rev. 1:18) taken into possession by the exalted Christ need not refer to literal keys but to his figurative and/or spiritual victory over death and the powers of hell through the Atonement; nor does the statement necessarily infer an excursion into Hades. Moreover, the presumption that Christ had to be condemned to hell in order to pay the debt for sin to God the Father encounters serious objections on many counts, and is not well founded in Scripture.
  5. This question is further confused by Jesus’ repeated assertions of being already glorified (John 13:3, 31; 16:15; contra. John 7:39, 12:16).
  6. See for example Gen. 1:2, 6:3; Job 26:13; Mt. 1:18, 20; Lk. 12:12; John 16:13-15; Acts 1:2, Rom. 15:13.).
  7. See Mat. 12:18; Luke 4:18; John 3:34-35, 7:16-19, 17:2; Acts 10:38 et al.
  8. Some see in John 1 an echo of Genesis 1 in which God creates by the spoken word, though neither logos (noun, “word”) nor lego (verb, “say”) appears in Genesis 1 in the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. Others see an intent to equate Christ with the Greek concept of divine Reason, similar to the attempt by the Alexandrian Jewish philosopher Philo to relate the Logos to the Hebrew God. Most likely, both ideas are present.
  9. John 14:16 points out that the Comforter is allon parakleton, “another Paraclete.” While heteros is “another of a different kind,” allos is regularly “another of the same kind.”
  10. Just as Joseph was given all the power of Pharaoh, being subject only to Pharaoh himself (Genesis 41:39-44), Christ wields all the power of God, subject only to him.
  11. The first “Lord” is YHWH, the “tetragrammaton” or “four-letter word” of God’s name, generally pronounced “Yahweh.” An earlier misunderstanding produced, via the German, the appellation “Jehovah.” The second “Lord” is adonai, a term of deference applied to God, angels, or men, approximate to but slightly stronger than the English term “sir.”
  12. Mt. 26:64 (parallel Mk. 14:62, Lk. 22:69); Mk. 16:19; Acts 2:33, 7:55; Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3, 8:1, 10:12, and 12:2; and 1 Peter 3:22.
  13. Paul often places ta panta, “all things,” equivalent to
    Creation (both material and spiritual) and in special
    relationship with “fullness” (pleroma) (see Eph. 1:9-10, 22-23,
    4:10; Col. 1:16-20, 2:9-10; cf. 1 Cor. 10:26, 28).
  14. Paul often uses kephale, “head,” as equivalent to arche, “ruler,” and kurios, “Lord” (see 1 Cor. 11:3, Eph. 1:17-23, 4:15, 5:22-24; Col. 1:15-19, 2:9-10, 19).
  15. That Psalm 68:18 is used as illustration and not as source is evident in his self-conscious alteration of “received gifts from men” to “gave gifts to men” (Eph. 4:8).
  16. Compare Paul’s mixing of charismatic gifts with gifted persons in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, 28-31 (cf. Romans 12:3-8).
  17. Eph. 4:13 could be rendered “unto the measure of stature (full height) which pertains to Christ, which is characterized by fullness” (richness, completeness), wherein the mature (“perfect”) man, or more likely the Church, is to somehow equal the “measure” (“standard”) of Christ.
  18. Compare the “vine” metaphor, John 15:1-8.
  19. Interestingly, in Ephesians 3:19, Christians are to be filled with the fullness of God. In 4:12-13, they are to be matured to the maturity of Christ.
  20. Constitution of the Assemblies of God (1993), article V, section 12. A 1974 position paper states that while healing is “in” and “flows from” the Atonement and is available to all believers, ultimate realization of immortality waits for our final redemption (Romans 8:23) (“Divine Healing: An Integral Part of the Gospel” in Where We Stand [Springfield MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1990], 49-50). In other words, we are provided through Christ’s Atonement with the possibility of divine healing, but not with a positive decree of divine health (immortality). See also Ansley Orfila, “A Thorn in the Flesh,” Paraclete 18 (Summer 1984):29-32.
  21. On the Baptism and spiritual gifts, see the author’s “Speaking God’s Message: the Holy Spirit and the Human Mind,” Paraclete 26 (Spring 1992):17-22; and Christ Within You! The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Liberty TX: Paul A. Hughes, 1993).

© 1996 Paul A. Hughes


Who Wrote Genesis? A Third Theory

Moses

Moses with the Tablets of the Ten Commandments

The Wiseman Hypothesis

by Paul A. Hughes, M.Div

Previously entitled:
The Third Theory of Genesis’ Composition:
The Wiseman Hypothesis

For over a century, there have been two main, and opposing, theories for the composition of Genesis.

The Foundations of Source Criticism

The first theory began with the speculations of Jean Astruc (1684-1766), who maintained that Moses, the traditional writer of the Pentateuch, must have used existing written or oral sources in constructing Genesis. Astruc proposed the names of God, Yahweh (Ger. Jahweh, Heb. YHWH) and Elohim (generic “God”) as the key to Genesis’ composition. He divided the book into two main “sources,” the Jahwist and the Elohist.

Later, Astruc decided his source theory was too simplistic. However, scholars such as DeWette built upon Astruc’s ideas. The work of K. Graf and Julius Wellhausen culminated in the Graf-Wellhausen Hypothesis, now commonly called JEDP Theory, in which:

J=Jahwist

E=Elohist

D=Deuteronomistic History

P=Priestly Code

Modern versions of JEDP Theory dominate higher criticism today. The theory assumes Genesis to be composed of fragmented myths and legends of Creation, the Flood, early man, and Hebrew origins. These isolated tales were loosely assembled, and were modified (“redacted”) through the centuries by various redactors. These redactors (or schools of redactors) worked according to the diverse sectarian or personal views, purposes, and concerns of each. Later redactions can be separated, say the critics, by using scientific methods to divide Genesis into its Jahwist, Elohist, Deuteronomist, and Priestly sources.

The critics believe that “myths” such as Creation, the Flood, and Babel were borrowed and adapted from ancient Mesopotamian mythology. Legends of the Patriarchs, Moses, and the Exodus arose among a distinct Canaanite minority as an attempt to explain and perhaps sanctify their origins.1 The Pentateuch reached its final form sometime in the Kingdom Era (1050-586 B.C.) or perhaps as late as the Post-Exilic Period (538-432 B.C.).

The Traditional View

A second theory, with more ancient origins, has been advanced in conservative religious circles all the more in the face of more divisive concepts. Tradition ascribes authorship of Genesis to Moses. Many references to Mosaic authorship do appear within the Pentateuch, also known as the “Five Books of Moses” and the Jewish Torah.

In Exodus 17:14, the Lord tells Moses to record the defeat of Amalek in a book. In two other instances, Moses is told to write down the ordinances of the Covenant (Exodus 24:4, 34:27).

Leviticus does not specifically name Moses as its author, but repeatedly introduces new information with the formula, “And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying . . .” (1:1 f., 4:1, 6:8, 24, etc.) His brother Aaron, the high priest, is sometimes included in the formula, as well. The book is finally capped with the statement, “These are the commandments which YHWH commanded Moses for the children of Israel in Mount Sinai” (27:34).

Numbers 33:2 mentions Moses making a written record of Israel’s wanderings.

In Deuteronomy, Moses records the Law and the curses pronounced upon those who disobey (28:58, 61; 29:20, 21, 27; 31:9-12). Moses places the Book of the Law inside the Ark of the Covenant to bear witness to future generations (31:24-27).

Deuteronomy purports itself to be a series of five discourses Moses delivered before the people just before they entered Canaan. Moses recaps major events of the exodus from Egypt, and reviews the articles of God’s Covenant. At the end is supplementary material regarding Moses’ death, obviously recorded by another hand (34:5-12).

The claim of Mosaic authorship of Pentateuchal writings is also found in the book of Joshua (hence the modern theories of a “Hexateuch”). The Book of the Law written by Moses is referred to in Joshua 1:8, 8:31, and 23:6. Joshua carved the Law of Moses into the stones of the altar on Mount Ebal (8:32 ff.). Later, Joshua added to the Book (24:26).

Explicit, internal statements roundly confirm Moses as the author of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. But what does Genesis say?

Conservative traditionalists adduce the claim that God revealed the stories of Creation, the Flood, etc., to Moses on Mount Sinai (i.e., “Dictation Theory”). How else could Moses learn the true history of Creation and other events of pre-history unless God revealed them?

However, one of the things which sets Genesis apart from the rest of the Pentateuch is that it makes no mention of Moses. Nowhere does the Bible explicitly state that Moses wrote the first book, until — as demonstrated in the New Testament — Jews by convention began to refer to the entire Torah or Law (exclusive of the Prophets or Writings) as “Moses.” Some traditionalists assert that Jesus identified Moses as the author of Genesis, but that is not truly the case.

Mosaic authorship of Genesis is dependent upon tradition and, in turn, upon speculation and assumption. In fact, the most that can be said is that Exodus appears to intentionally pick up where Genesis leaves off: with the transition which takes place from the death of Joseph to the birth of Moses.

Fundamental Disagreement

To date, JEDP and tradition have found no common ground. A strict line of demarcation exists between the two, which has polarized Bible scholars into two camps. Many of the initial details of JEDP theory have been discarded since its initial proposal, yet its basic premises remain. Traditionalists object to the critics’ a priori rejection of such internal evidence as stated authorship and purpose of the books, and their anti-supernaturalistic bias. They object further to the extirpation of the Creation and Flood accounts, et al., as authoritative Scripture.

The JEDP critics, on the other hand, consider traditionalists to be dogmatic, unscientific, and ingenuous. They often oppose traditional views with evangelistic zeal, as bonds to be broken, ignorance to be purged. Indeed, for more than a century, traditionalists have felt the winds of scholarly opinion blow hard against them.

Wiseman’s Research

With these prevailing views of Genesis now in mind, the writer presents a third theory of Genesis’ composition, which he has dubbed the Wiseman Hypothesis.

Percy J. Wiseman (1888-1948) was an officer of the Royal Air Force who spent some years in the Middle East. While there, he made it his business to visit the sites of archaeological digs in progress, and learn as much as he could about ancient history and cultures. He visited the excavation at Ur of Sir Leonard Woolley, visited S. H. Langdon at Kish, and conversed at length with Cyril Gadd and others. In the process, he collected a number of cuneiform inscriptions and tablets, and learned a great deal about ancient Mesopotamian composition.

Wiseman began to formulate his own theory of the composition of Genesis based upon the recent archaeological discoveries and his investigations of ancient writing practices. He presented these in his book, New Discoveries in Babylonia about Genesis (1936). The book has undergone several editions, including two German, and is most recently presented as Ancient Records and the Structure of Genesis (Thomas Nelson, 1985), edited by his son, well-known Assyriologist Donald J. Wiseman (University of London).

Wiseman’s theory has been largely dismissed by both higher critics and conservative traditionalists. Yet a thoughtful reading of the work shows it to be worthy of renewed interest.

Many startling new discoveries were made in Mesopotamia in the decades preceding Wiseman’s work. Many were even then being made. Some of the most startling pertain to Genesis.

The culture of ancient Mesopotamia was shown to be far more advanced than previously considered. It was proven that writing was practiced before 3000 B.C., a thousand or more years before Abraham. Vast libraries of clay tablets were discovered at Ur, Nippur, and other sites. Epics of Creation and of a universal Flood (in three versions), which parallel the Genesis accounts, were found to be in widespread distribution. The Code of Hammurapi, from roughly the time of Abraham, was found to contain many of the laws by which Abraham governed his actions (see also the Ebla stela).

At the very least, such discoveries confirmed the great antiquity of much of the Genesis material, often placing it within the time-frame it depicts. Moreover, the finds demonstrated that much of the historic material surrounding the life of Abraham could have been passed along in written form.

Ancient Writing Practices

Wiseman studied the standard writing practices of ancient Mesopotamia, as demonstrated in the tablets. The common writing media were raw clay tablets impressed by a wedge-shaped stylus. The tablets were facilitated by the exceptionally fine clay found in the area which was easy to impress with the distinctive cuneiform (“cone-shaped”) characters. Inscriptions in stone were also common, but the clay tablets, oven-baked to great hardness, were versatile and durable.

The identification statement of each document, Wiseman noted, was placed at the end of the text — not, as is currently practiced, at the beginning. Thus, the famous Code of Hammurapi closes with the statement, “The righteous laws which Hammurapi, the wise king, has established . . . .”

Two books of the Pentateuch identify themselves in this manner: Leviticus closes with the statement, “These are the commandments which YHWH commanded Moses for the children of Israel . . .” (27:34); and Numbers, “These are the commandments and the ordinances which YHWH commanded by the hand of Moses unto the children of Israel . . .” (36:13).

The ending statement of an ancient Mesopotamian text is called the colophon. The colophon may include (1) the name of the writer, dictator, owner, or perhaps the subject of the book; (2) some means of dating the book or the events recorded; plus (3) any other pertinent information.

The first words of the text usually served as the title. To this day, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible are entitled in this manner: Genesis is bereshith, “In the Beginning”; Exodus is we’elleh shemoth, “These Are the Names,” and so on.

The cuneiform script could, to an extent, be compressed or expanded to fit the tablet. Keeping the number of tablets to a minimum was no doubt considered desirable in most cases. But some texts required that two or more tablets be used. In this event, some way in which to identify the intermediate tablets was required. Scribes answered this need by repeating the title at the end of each tablet. At the close of the final tablet, the colophon appeared along with the title. Wiseman calls this final repetition of the title, along with the colophon, the “title page” of the work.

Wiseman’s Theory

Wiseman began to view the book of Genesis in the light of these ancient Mesopotamian practices. He saw similarities and, in his mind, the key to the construction of Genesis. While critical scholars envisioned a progression of myths and legends artificially connected and unevenly edited by diverse hands, Wiseman gained a sense of order and unity from this new perspective. Genesis, he maintained, should not be studied in isolation, in subjective fashion. It should be compared to other ancient texts.

Fundamental to Wiseman’s hypothesis is his observation that the milieu of the first eleven chapters of Genesis is distinctly Mesopotamian, while the last fourteen chapters (37:2b on) are Egyptian in setting. Moreover, personal names, place-names, and references to law and custom are all appropriate to their cultural, geographic, linguistic, and historic context. The intervening chapters (in Canaan) are quite mixed, as could be expected. The implication is that the various accounts were originally written under the very circumstances they portray.

Also fundamental to Wiseman’s case is the formula, “These are the generations of _________” (name inserted). This formula, which occurs eleven times in Genesis, has long been presumed to be a standard introduction to a genealogical list. However, not in all cases does a genealogy accompany the formula. None appears with “the generations of the heavens and the earth” in Genesis 2:4, nor with Jacob’s formula in 37:2a. The genealogies of Noah (6:9 f.) and Terah (11:27) are severely limited, and might be incidental. That of Isaac (27:19 ff.) is not a genealogical list at all: the formula seems to introduce the continuing story of Esau and Jacob.

Genealogies in Genesis
Adam to the sons of Noah 5:3-32
Noah to his sons (incidental) 6:9-10
Shem, Ham, and Japheth (2-5 generations) 10:1/lb-32
Shem to Abram (9 generations) 11:10/l0b-26
Terah to his sons (incidental) 11:27/27b (see also 28-30)
Ishmael to his sons 25:12/13-16
Abraham to Isaac’s sons (incidental) 25:19, 25, 26
Jacob’s sons (incidental) 29:31-30:24, 35:18
Esau to his sons 36:1-5
Esau to his grandsons 36:9-14
Esau to his grandsons who became princes 36:15-19
Seir the Horite to his grandchildren 36:20-28
Other Histories in Genesis
Sons of Hori (Seir the Horite)
who were princes of Edom
36:29-30
Successive kings of Edom 36:31-39
Descendants of Esau
who were princes of Edom
36:40-43

The absence of genealogies with the formula in some of its occurrences has in some circles been put forward as a proof that the text has been extensively redacted (in which case the missing passages must have been deleted and lost, but their introductions preserved — a singularly unlikely occurrence). Wiseman believed that such apparent inconsistencies are due to a basic misunderstanding, even ignorance, of ancient writing practices, or the failure to apply what is known. The various portions of Genesis, he maintained, were recorded close to the time in which the events took place, perhaps by eyewitnesses. The true authority of the Genesis record lies in the fact that its most ancient histories were written down on clay tablets and handed down by Adam’s, Noah’s, and Abraham’s progeny through the ages.

According to Wiseman’s hypothesis, the record of Creation was first handed down by Adam in the simple, phenomenological terms in which God had disclosed it to him. The account of Creation was not, then, “demythologized” by later Hebrew or proto-Hebrew scribes. Instead, the original story found in Hebrew Scripture was elsewhere corrupted and expanded by Mesopotamian polytheists.

Later tablets are the family histories of the lineage traced through Noah, down to the Patriarchs of Israel. The only true worshiper of God of his day, Noah is presumed to have preserved the antediluvian texts (copies, perhaps) for posterity. In turn, Abraham — a monotheist among polytheists and nature-worshipers — took unadulterated copies with him to Canaan. Jacob took these, along with family histories recorded while in Canaan, to Egypt. The history of Joseph was probably written in Egypt on papyrus, originally in Egyptian.

The land of Canaan was in regular contact with both Mesopotamia and Egypt. Mesopotamian cuneiform, notably the Akkadian language, could be interpreted in Egypt, as testified by the Tell el-Amarna letters (c. 1400-1353 B.C.) sent from Canaan. Clearly, eventual translation of cuneiform tablets of Genesis would not have been a problem. The composition of Genesis would have been, it is supposed, simply a matter of linking the separate accounts to form a single narrative. This was done, says Wiseman, by Moses in the Wilderness — with some small editing, such as giving “modern” place-names along with the more ancient Canaanite identifications in the original account.

According to Wiseman, the key to separating the original text of the tablets from Genesis in its present form is to identify the colophon, or ending statement, of each. The colophons of the ancient tablets can be identified, says Wiseman, by the formula, “These are the generations of _________”.

Wiseman noted that “generations” here is the Hebrew word toledoth, not the more common dor used regularly with reference to genealogies. Most scholars of Wiseman’s time agreed that toledoth was better rendered “history” (F. Boettcher, H. Havernick, J. Furst, B. Roberts, S. R. Driver); “origins” (Havernick, H. Ewald); “chronicles” (H. Ryle), or something in that vein. Toledot Jesu, Wiseman points out, is translated “History of Jesus.” Given the above, the formula should read, “This is the history (origins, chronicles) of _________”.

These eleven formulas, if they are colophons, refer to the account which appears before the colophon, not a genealogy appearing after it. When and if a genealogy follows, it may be considered a postscript to the colophon rather than a genealogy which the formula introduces. The colophon identifies the owner, writer, dictator, or the one who is the subject of the book.

One might question whether the “author” listed in the colophon could himself have written or orally transmitted the record thus attributed to him. Wiseman, however, asserts that “the history recorded in the sections [preceding] the names of the patriarchs ceases in all instances on the date on which the tablet is stated to have been written or, where no date is given, before the death of that person. In most cases it is continued almost up to the date of the patriarch’s death” (p. 145).

If the documents were originally written on clay tablets in Mesopotamian style, then each tablet or series of tablets can be expected to have its own title (the first few words). This phrase should also appear at the end of each tablet in a series, and finally will be repeated at the end of the book as a “title page.” Wiseman proposes titles for most of the tablets, along with their title pages. In some cases, he identifies the repetitions of the titles which mark the change from one tablet to the next within a series. (Unfortunately, Wiseman only identifies a few of these repetitions, claiming no more than their occasional incidence as “remnants” of the original documents. For example, “after the Flood” (10:lb) is proposed as the title of Tablet V, the history of Shem (10:lb-11:10). Closely following the colophon in 11:10, “after the flood” is repeated. Wiseman identifies this as the title page. But the phrase also occurs within Tablet V at 10:32b, possibly marking the end of a tablet in the original document.

Wiseman’s Tablets of Genesis
Tablet/Series Author/Subject Passage
I Creation 1:1-2:4
II Adam 2:4-5:2
III Noah 5:3-6:9a
IV Sons of Noah 6:9b-10:1
V Shem 10:1c-11:10
VI Terah 11:10b-27a
VII & VIII Ishmael/Isaac 11:27b-25:19a
IX Esau 25:19b-36:1a
X Esau 36:1b-9a
XI Jacob 36:9b-37:2a

A Critical Examination

This hypothesis has both unresolved difficulties and pronounced strengths. What follows are the writer’s own observations.

The first document (Tablet I, 1:1-2:4) seems to affirm Wiseman’s theory in its consistent use of Elohim (“God”) as the name or title of God. The single exception, YHWH Elohim in 2:4, might be a redaction, especially since the passage is otherwise consistent. Other than this exception, the tetragrammaton YHWH (Yahweh) as the name of God does not appear.

Elsewhere in Genesis, usage of these titles is mixed. The consistency of this first passage, however, suggests that it had at some time existed as a document distinct from the rest. Still, mixed usage of the names of God in Genesis will no doubt strike many scholars as evidence of redaction and the mingling of sources. Redaction and source criticism could be in order here, but should operate within the framework of Wiseman’s basic premises.

The title of Tablet I is, according to Wiseman, “God (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth” (1:1). The “title page” at the end is, “the Lord God (YHWH Elohim) made the heavens and the earth” (2:4). Wiseman does not account for the differences in wording: Elohim versus YHWH Elohim, and “created” (barah) versus “made” (asah). Nor does he explain why the first words, “In the beginning,” do not become the title.

The “date” of Tablet I is also posited in the clause, “in the day the Lord God made the heavens and the earth” (2:4). There is some question whether this clause could have served such a dual purpose, as both title page and date.

The transition from first to second document takes place within 2:4. The beginning of Tablet II, “When (lit. in the day) they were created,” actually occurs before the first tablet’s designated ending statement, “the Lord God made the heavens and the earth.” The word order here is essentially the same in either the Masoretic Hebrew text or the Greek Septuagint. This overlapping of designated tablets necessitates some theory of redaction, though perhaps not such an overarching theory as JEDP. Any redaction in Genesis need not, at this point, be thought to be as exhaustive as that presumed by that theory.

Again, in 5:2 (Tablet II), “when they were created” is made to serve double duty as both date and title page.

Wiseman assigns 5:3-32 to Tablet III (5:3-6:9). But the passage is a rather disjointed genealogy not directly attached to its supposed introduction in 5:1. The passage could as easily be a postscript to Tablet II, added by a later hand, as it could a preface to Tablet III. Or it could have originally been a separate document altogether.

Wiseman does not assign a title and title page to Tablet III in his chart (p. 80). This appears to be an editorial oversight. But could not the phrase, “Shem, Ham, and Japheth,” which is assigned Tablet IV (at 6:10 and 10:1) serve the same or similar purpose within Tablet III at 5:32 and 6:10? The phrase also occurs within Tablet IV at 7:13 and 9:18, perhaps marking the ends of individual tablets within the series.

Then if Tablet IV was originally a series of individual tablets thus linked, it seems possible that all or part of Tablet III was once a part of the same series, based on the phrase, “Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” This premise would, of course, run “Noah’s Tablet” (III) together with that of “the sons of Noah” (IV). A possible solution to this dilemma is that Noah’s sons had simply added their records onto later copies of their father’s book.

The observation, that in every occurrence the phrase “Shem, Ham, and Japheth” seems perfectly in context, militates against its identification as a recurring tablet marker. It might be that Wiseman’s hypothetical tablet markers are more apparent than real. On the other hand, perhaps any occurrences of the tablet marker which seemed out of context were deleted by a later copyist. This is quite likely, were the text encountered in another medium, such as papyrus or parchment, where the significance of such markers would not be understood. The fact that in 7:13 and 10:1 the phrase occurs in conjunction with “the sons of Noah,” which seems somewhat redundant, further complicates the issue.

The attribution of most of Noah’s story to his sons (in Tablet IV) seems odd, unless Noah had it written the tablet for his sons in their name. Ham’s own admission of his indiscretion and cursing (9:20-27) likewise seems unlikely.

The transition from the fourth to the fifth document (at 10:1) is awkward. Wiseman’s designated title, “After the Flood,” evidently interrupts a genealogy which extends through 10:32. In 11:10, “after the Flood” is clearly an attempt to “date” the birth of Arpachshad, Shem’s son, rather than a repeat of the title — unless it serves a dual purpose. Here again the phrase, were it a mere mechanical literary device, would interrupt the genealogy in 11:10-32.

The colophon of Tablet VI, “this is the history of Terah” (11:27a), appears to interrupt the genealogy, 11:10-32, as well. The passage 11:27-32, however, does not follow the same tedious pattern set in the previous section, 11:10-26. Whether the colophon is the ending of the previous section or the introduction to that which follows, only a change of tablet at 11:27 could easily explain the abrupt change in style and the interruption made by the colophon. Wiseman’s separation of tablets at this point is well justified.

The seventh and eighth series of tablets (11:27b-25:19a) tell largely of Abraham and Isaac. But the colophon of Ishmael (25:12) occurs near the end of the story, closely followed by that of Isaac (25:19). Does this mean, as Wiseman’s theory suggests, that Ishmael wrote all of the material up to his colophon, which mostly concerns his father and brother? In that case, Isaac must have added only a brief supplement. Did Isaac (or a later redactor) incorporate Ishmael’s family records into his own? (Ishmael’s death, which occurred before Isaac’s, is recorded in the Isaac material.) Or did Isaac simply honor his elder half-brother by giving place to him in his book? The evidence remains inconclusive.

How are the tablets of Series VII and VIII linked together? The phrase, “________ called upon the name of the Lord,” recurs at 12:8 and 21:33, possibly denoting tablet changes. But the phrase has previously occurred at 4:26, and appears subsequently at 28:20 and 35:3. Moreover, the phrase seems to be prefectly in context in each instance, militating against its use as a marker. Other repetitive phrases do not immediately present themselves.

Wiseman’s IXth through XIth series of tablets presents problems similar to those of Series VII and VIII. Did Esau write 25:19b-36:9, or did Jacob (37:2a) honor his elder twin brother by including him?

The section 36:1 through 37:2a presents a particular difficulty. The statement, “This is the history of _________” seems clearly to introduce an historical record, rather than conclude it (36:1, 9; see also verses 15, 20, 29, 31, 40). Perhaps the literary style of the Canaan of Jacob and Esau had, by this time, diverged from that of Mesopotamia — or at least some variety of construction was available to them. Perhaps these records were, unlike those preceding them, written in the style current in Edom — or of Egypt, which also exerted considerable influence in the region.

A mixed usage of toledoth, “generations,” is suggested here: sometimes the term is applied to a concluding formula, at others to the introduction to a genealogy.

The passages 36:1-8 and 9-14 are markedly parallel and contain duplicate information, though they also supplement one another. The former observation may indicate their original existence as independent documents; the latter suggests the reason why both were included. The compiler likely wished to include all the information available to him, yet maintain the integrity of the original documents. He was, therefore, loath to write a composite version himself.

Probable “Separate-Source”
Documents of Genesis
Subject Passage
Creation 1:1-2:4
Sons of God (?) 6:1-2, 4
Babel (?) 11:1-9
Ishmael 25:12-18
Esau 36:1-8
Esau 36:9-14
Princes, sons of Esau 36:15-19
Sons of Seir the Horite 36:20-28
Princes of the Horites 36:29-30
Kings of Edom 36:31-39
Princes of Edom who
were descendants of Esau
36:40-43

The above concern of the compiler is also apparent in the remaining records of Esau. The passage 36:15-43 contains records pertaining to Esau, his descendants, and the princes of Edom, which would seem of little concern to the descendants of Jacob, and even less to the Israelites after the exodus. The records bear all the marks of originally isolated documents — in this case containing no narrative — later incorporated in toto into a larger work of family history. One might suggest that these are records of Esau which his loving brother, Jacob, included near the end of his own narrative, 25:19b-37:2a.

Jacob capped his family history with his own colophon in Mesopotamian style (37:1-2a). Along with his desire to reproduce Esau’s records exactly, this fact accounts for the mixed usage of the “generations” formula. If 37:2a were meant instead to introduce a genealogy of Jacob, one must presume the genealogy were somehow deleted. Yet it remains inconceivable that a redactor would delete a genealogy but leave its introduction intact.

Conclusions

Even in this brief examination of Wiseman’s hypothesis, one can see both details which recommend it and unresolved difficulties, even apparent inconsistencies, which threaten to undermine the theory before it has received due consideration. Certainly, the problem of Genesis’ composition is much more complex than Wiseman envisioned in his scenario.

If Wiseman’s hypothesis is to be advanced further, it must remain flexible enough to allow for exceptions and aberrations. Genesis purports itself to be a series of histories which together span a thousand years or more. Differences in writing style and practice, then, must be allowed for, and the possibility of later redaction taken into account. Within the general assumptions of the overall hypothesis, sub-theories must be developed to work out the fine details. The theory should neither be rejected nor finalized prematurely.

The hypothesis has major strengths. Unlike JEDP, it is based upon a knowledge of ancient methods of composition. In this way the theory is objective, while JEDP is based upon a subjective evaluation of the text in isolation. The hypothesis takes Genesis virtually as is, without extensive modifications to fit its presuppositions. Yet it does not make the broad, specious, and for that matter unscriptural assumption — following tradition alone — that the book was dictated to Moses by God. The theory not only takes into account, but often explains, the repetitions and duplications found in the text, such as the dual genealogies of Esau in Genesis 36. The absence of genealogies following the “generations” formula, at least in some cases, is also explained.

Wiseman’s hypothesis remains in seminal form. But it is worthy of more serious consideration than it has thus far received. Since truth is not subject to majority opinion, nor have the books been closed in its quest, there is certainly room for one more theory on the composition of Genesis.

NOTES

  1. On Canaanite origins of the Hebrew nation, see Israel Finkelstein, “Searching for Israelite Origins,” Biblical Archaeology Review 14 (Sept./Oct. 1988), pp. 34-45, 58.

Analysis
of the Wiseman Hypothesis

Tablet I

(1:1-2:4)

Colophon: “the history of the heavens and the
earth” (1:1)
Comments:

Genesis 1:1-2:4 — An initial, “primitive” telling of the
Creation story, as yet not “mythologized” by polytheists in
Mesopotamia, containing little or no redaction.

Title: “God Created the Heavens and the
Earth” (1:1)
“Title Page”: “the Lord God made the heavens and the
earth” (2:4)
Date: “in the day the Lord God made the heavens
and the earth” (2:4)

Tablet
II

(2:4-5:2)

Colophon: “the history of Adam” (5:1a) Comments:

Genesis 2:5-6 — A postscript to Tablet I, the beginning of Tablet II,
or a transitional passage designed to add Tablet II to Tablet I.

Genesis 2:7-5:2 — The story of the creation and life of Adam.

Title: “When They Were Created” (2:4)
“Title Page”: “when they were created” (5:2)
Date: “in the day God created man” (5:1b)

Tablet
III

(5:3-6:9a)

Colophon: “the history of Noah” (6:9a) Comments:

Genesis 5:3-32 — A family genealogical record, perhaps originally a
separate tablet, to which the Flood story (6:1-10:1) was added.

Genesis 6:1-9a Might be, as Wiseman suggests, “a small tablet of
narrative writing added to a genealogical list” (p. 92).

Title: none specified
“Title Page”: none specified
Date: none specified

Tablet
(Series) IV

(6:9b-10:1)

Colophon: “the history of the sons of Noah”
(10:1a)
Comments:

6:9b-10:1a — The Flood story, probably originally a document separate
from 6:1-9a. The section 9:20-29, recalling the sin and curse of Ham,
might also have been a separate document in its original form.

10:1b-c — Might serve to connect a genealogy composed at a later date
to an existing record of Noah’s life.

Title: “Shem, Ham, and Japheth” (6:10)
“Title Page”: “Shem, Ham, and Japheth” (10:1b)
Date: “after the Flood” (10:1c)

Tablet
(Series) V

(10:1c-11:10)

Colophon: “the history of Shem”

(11:10a)

Comments:

10:1b-32 — A genealogy of Noah’s sons (note that the descendents of
Shem are placed last).

11:1-9 — The story of Babel might originally have existed as a
separate historical document.

Title: “After the Flood” (10:32)
“Title Page”: “after the Flood” (11:10b)
Date: none specified

Tablet (Series) VI

(11:10b-27a)

Colophon: “the history of Terah”

(11:27a)

Comments:

11:10a (or 10b) -26 — A genealogy of the direct lineage of Terah from
Shem, obviously a separate document or for a different purpose from that
of 10:21-32 (traced through Peleg rather than Joktan, his brother).

Title: “Abram, Nahor, and Haran” (11:26)
“Title Page”: “Abram, Nahor, and Haran” (11:27b)
Date: when Terah was 70

(11:26)


Tablet
(Series)

VII and VIII

(11:27b-25:12

[25:13-19a a postscript])

Colophons: “the history of Ishmael” (25:12)

“the history of Isaac” (25:19)

Comments:

11:27a or 27b — Apparently begins a new document, which explains the
duplication of material betweeen 11:26 and 27.

11:27-25:19a — Might have been written largely by Abraham, and
concluded by his sons, as an extended episodic account. It is not unlikely
that Ishmael had a hand in recording his father’s story, esp. since Isaac
did not appear until 21:1; or that Isaac included Ishmael in deference to
his older brother, attributing the history also to him, with a short
genealogy and epitaph (25:12-18).

Series Title: “Abraham’s Sons”

(25:12, 19)

“Title Page”: none specified
Date: when Isaac dwelt at Beer-Lahai-roi (25:11)

Tablet
(Series) IX

(25:29b-36:1a)

Colophon: “the history of Esau”

(36:1)

Comments:

25:29b-35:29 — The stories of Esau and Jacob, similar in texture to
that of Abraham. Both stories are quite self-contained and display
considerable continuity. Jacob is by far the main character, and likely
the source of most or all of the information.

Title: none specified
“Title Page”: none specified
Date: none specified

Tablet
X

(36:1b-9a)

Colophon: “the history of Esau”

(36:9a)

Comments:

36:1-43 — Records of Esau which, as a whole, interrupt the story of
Jacob, which is resumed and concluded in 37:1-2. Sections 36:1-8 and
36:9-43 appear to be two or more distinct documents, including duplication
in Esau’s genealogy. 36:9-43 also includes records of the princes of Edom
(36:20-39), of little interest to Jacob (or to later Israel) except as a
family history. Moreover, the histories of Jacob and Esau here are so
intermingled that Wiseman’s argument for separating them as he did into
Tablets X and XI is weak.

Title: “Who is Edom” (36:1b)
“Title Page”: “[who] is Edom” (36:8b)
Date: none specified

Tablet XI

(36:9b-37:2a)

Colophon: “the history of Jacob”

(37:2a)

Comments:

37:1-2 — Concludes the story of Jacob.

36:9b, 36:43c — It is inexplicable that the “history of
Jacob” should be entitled, “Father of the Edomites,” unless
the colophon designates the owner or author of the book, not its subject.

37:2b-50:26 — The balance of Genesis is story of Joseph — a separate,
continuous document of strong Egyptian influence and motif, ending with
Joseph’s epitaph (50:22-26).

Title: “Father of the Edomites”

(36:9b)

“Title Page”: “father of the Edomites”

(36:43c)

Date: while living in Canaan

(37:1)

© 1999 Paul A. Hughes


Notes on “From Glory to Glory”

Transfiguration by Raphael

Transfiguration by Raphael

Allow me share some insights I garnered for a message on the glory of God, which you are free to use if you feel so led.

First, I consulted my favorite word study source, which to my knowledge is the best, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, usually referred to by the name of its editor, Colin Brown.  I highly recommend it.  It is 4 volumes, the fourth of which is all indexes:  by English word, by Greek word, and by Scripture reference.

The Hebrew for “glory” is KABOD (or CHABOD) which “does not mean God in his essential nature, but the luminous manifestation of his person, his glorious revelation of himself,” often to be equated with the SHEKINAH of the actual presence of God.  When the Philistines captured the Ark (1 Sam 4), Eli’s daughter-in-law named her newborn child Ichabod, “where is the glory?”

The Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament) adopted the word DOXA (DOCK-sa) for KABOD to express glory as “a quality belonging to God.”  In secular Greek, DOXA did not carry this particular connotation, but a range of meanings from “opinion” and “conjecture” to “repute” and “praise.”  Its verb form, DOXAZO (dock-SODD-zo), can mean “think, imagine, suppose, magnify, praise, extol.”

I note that the ancient Greeks did have a concept of personal glory:  in Homer’s Iliad, in spite of repeated admonitions to stay in formation, warriors kept breaking off into individual combat in order to defeat and strip an enemy of his armor and weapons as trophies.

New Testament authors adopted the Septuagint concept but applied DOXA also to “men or earthly powers” (Mt 4:8, 6:29, Lk 4:6, 1 Pet 1:24); to “angels and other heavenly beings” (Lk 2:9, 9:31, Acts 22:11, Jude 8, 2 Pet 2:10, Rev 18:1); and to celestial bodies (1 Cor 15:40f.).

(Moving on to my own search of Scripture) the Apostle Paul relates glory to the Last Adam, Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:45).  Christ was already glorified, but humbled himself in mere mortal flesh (Phil 2:6ff., Heb 2:9).  He is the LOGOS, the impetus for Creation (John 1:1ff.) and the express image of God, through whom the Church accesses the glory of God (2 Cor 4:4ff., Col 1:15f., Heb 1:3).  He revealed his glory briefly to his Disciples in his Transfiguration (Mt 17:2).  In the Resurrection, believers are destined to be glorified in his image and partake of God’s glory (1 Cor 15:40-50, Col 1:12-16, Phil 3:20).

In the meantime, believers are to reflect the glory of the true image of God, Jesus Christ.  I contemplate the illustration of the moon, which has no light of its own, but reflects the light of the sun.  When the moon is full, it shines brightly; but when the moon turns to the side, or hides itself in the shadow of the earth, or is covered by clouds, its light is diminished or even hidden like a “light under a bushel.”

How are we to receive and reflect that glory of the Son of God?  Through killing the “old man” and putting on the “new man” (Rom 6:6, 8:13; Col 3:5, 9f.; Eph 4:22ff.), through being transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:2), and through cultivating Fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22f., Col 1:9ff.).  In so doing, we are “changed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Cor 3:18).  We must continue to seek the presence of God to partake of his glory, for even Moses found that God’s glory manifested on his face kept passing away until renewed (2 Cor 3:13).

Finally, some insights on the phrase, “from glory to glory”:

In NT Greek, there are at least 3 words translated “from” and at least 3 translated “to.”  My trusty online Bible program showed me that “from” in this instance is the preposition APO (uh-PAH) and “to” is another preposition, EIS (ays).  Bauer’s lexicon says that the “basic meaning” of APO is “separation from someone or something,” often translated “from” or “away from.”  The meaning of EIS is complex, but it is usually translated “into” or “unto,” expressing entry, transition, and sometimes (as in Eph 4:12f.,) result.

Next, I used my online Bible to search for parallel phrases, containing APO in close proximity to EIS.  Mt 2:1 tells us that “wise men came from (APO) the east to (EIS) Jerusalem,” and 19:1 that Jesus “departed from (APO) Galilee, and came into (EIS) the coasts of Judaea.”  Luke 1:26 says that “Gabriel was sent from (APO) God unto (EIS) a city of Galilee.”  Acts 11:27 records that “prophets came from (APO) Jerusalem unto (EIS) Antioch.”  So this phraseology can signify simple relocation from one place to another.

Similarly, “from (APO) city to (EIS) city” (Mt 23:34) may express simple relocation, but perhaps also change or progress; which is more evident in Rom 6:22, in which we are “made free from (APO) sin, and . . . have [our] fruit unto (EIS) holiness, and the end everlasting life.”  Paul adds in Rom 8:21 that “the creature itself also shall be delivered from (APO) the bondage of corruption into (EIS) the glorious liberty of the children of God.”  Moreover, the author of Hebrews (9:14) describes a radical change whereby Christ’s blood will “purge your conscience from (APO) dead works to (EPI) serve the living God.”

We may conclude that by the phrase “from glory to glory,” Paul expresses a transition, transformation, or progression from one glory to another.  A different preposition occurs in Rom 1:17, “from (EX) faith to [EIS] faith,” but nevertheless that phrase is probably a direct parallel.  In both cases, whether the change occurs in terms of level (quantity) or type (quality) of glory or faith remains unclear — but the idea of progressive change can hardly be disputed.

© 2010 Paul A. Hughes, M.Div


Christ, God’s Greatest Gift

Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst (1590-1656)

Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst (1590-1656)

At this season of the year, people who do not regularly attend church show up for Christmas programs, those who seldom pray recite elaborate blessings over family dinners, and people who are at best nominal Christians pay homage to God for the birth of Jesus Christ.

John 3:16 begins, “God so loved the world that He gave his only-begotten Son . . . .” It is true that the birth of Christ was a great expression of God’s love for his creation. Unfortunately, most public rhetoric reduces the meaning of Christmas to “God showing He loves us by giving us a present.”

However, the coming of Christ goes far beyond his simply being born. Christ’s birth was just the beginning of his great work. God was giving much more than a child, but no less than the Savior of the world for all ages. John 3:16 goes on to say, “. . . that whoever believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life.”

Christ Showed Us the Way to Salvation

True service to God is not in following arbitrary rules and regulations but in loving God with all your heart, soul, and might, and loving your neighbor like yourself (Mark 12:29-31). You are required to “sell out” completely to God (Mark 10:21, Luke 12:33) and “deny yourself” (Matthew 16:24), but in doing so you inherit the “free gift” of eternal salvation (Romans 4:16, Ephesians 2:8).

Christ Paid for Our Sins for All Time

While the sacrifices of Moses’ Law had to be made over and over, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was “once for all” (Hebrews 10:10-13). Christ is willing to bear the sins of anyone who will simply believe in him and entrust their sins to his great sacrifice (Hebrews 9:28).

Christ Ascended to God’s Right Hand

When He left the earth, Christ received his just reward for his perfect obedience to God’s plan: He ascended to God’s throne and took his seat at God’s right hand. As God’s literal “right-hand man,” Christ has been granted all the power of God in order to serve and empower his Church (John 3:35, Ephesians 1:22).

Christ Continues to Save and Grant Gifts to His Church

Christ is “head” to his “body,” the Church. Those who enter into his Church become a part of him, figuratively and spiritually. As part of Christ, Christians are nourished and cared for as parts of his body (Ephesians 4:15-16). Those who are “in Christ” remain covered by the blood of his sacrifice and enter into eternal salvation with him (Romans 8:1-3).

More than that, Christ wields all the power of God in behalf of his Church. He dispenses spiritual gifts through the Holy Spirit to aid the operation of the Church (1 Corinthians 14:2-5) and to enable Christians to preach the gospel with divine power (1 Corinthians 2:4-5, 1 Thessalonians 1:5). By extension, those who are “gifted” for leadership are also considered gifts to the Church (1 Corinthians 12:28, Ephesians 4:11-12). Thus Jesus Christ rules and reigns over his Church from his seat in God’s throne.

God’s gift of Christ was much more than simply showing us He loves us by sending a baby to be born. God sent his one and only Son to live, die, triumph over sin, and reign over us. Jesus Christ was more than just a good man, a moral teacher, a well-meaning man who tried to save the world but lost his own life.

Christ was the one for whom this world was made in the first place (Colossians 1:16-19). The world as a whole has not yet been forcibly put under his rule (Hebrews 2:8). In this Age of Grace, Christ does not force submission on us. But ultimately, in God’s time, all things will be put in subjection to Christ (1 Corinthians 15:28, Revelation 19:15).

This Christmas, celebrate Christ as more than just a child in a manger. Celebrate him for all that He is: Savior, Lord of the Church, ultimate Lord of the earth. If you let him, He can be your personal Savior and Lord, as well, and the greatest friend you will ever find.

© 1996 Paul A. Hughes. Originally published in the Polk County Enterprise.


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What the Bible Says about the Antichrist

Apocalypse by Viktor Vasnetsov (1848-1926)

Detail from Apocalypse by Viktor Vasnetsov (1848-1926)

The Fourth Beast, Rome, is divided into ten kingdoms (the toes of the Great Image, Daniel 2), from which comes the first “Little Horn,” thought by many to represent the Antichrist:

  • After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things (Daniel 7:7-8).
  • I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame (Daniel 7:11).
  • Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet; And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end (Daniel 7:19-26).

The he-goat is Alexander the Great (died 323 B.C.), from which sprang four kingdoms, including Ptolemaic Egypt, Seleucid Syria, Asia Minor, and Macedonia. The “Little Horn,” in this case, also called “the king of fierce countenance,” would correspond to the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes (ruled 175-164 B.C.), arch-enemy of the Jews. It was he who sacrificed a pig on the altar, considered to be the fulfillment of “the abomination of desolation.” Some scholars consider Antiochus to be, prophetically, a prefigurement or “type” of the Antichrist to come, which would then make the Antichrist a secondary fulfillment or “anti-type” of the prophecy.

  • Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven. And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down (Daniel 8:8-11).
  • And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power. And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand (Daniel 8:21-25).
  • And now will I show thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia. And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those (Daniel 11:2-4).

Apparently the Prince in Daniel 9:25 is the Messiah, but the “prince” in the next verse refers to the Antichrist. Historically, it was the Roman general Titus, later emperor, who destroyed the Temple in 70 A.D., at which time the sacrifices ceased; Jerusalem itself was leveled over six decades later. Thus Titus may be viewed as a “type” of the coming Antichrist, who will initially deceive the Jews (“confirm the covenant”), then betray them.

  • And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate (Daniel 9:26-27).

The verses Daniel 11:5-20 correspond to the wars between the Seleucid and the Ptolemaic kings; verse 21 picks up with Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who committed the “abomination of desolation.” Daniel 12:11 seems clearly to refer to an End-Time event, being “sealed up till the time of the end” (12:8-9).

  • And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries. And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant. And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people. He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers’ fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time. And he shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the south with a great army; and the king of the south shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand: for they shall forecast devices against him. Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow: and many shall fall down slain. And both these kings’ hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed. Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land. At the time appointed he shall return, and come toward the south; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter (Daniel 11:21-29).
  • For the ships of Chittim shall come against him: therefore he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant. And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate. And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days. Now when they shall fall, they shall be helped with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries. And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed. And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things. Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain. And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps. But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many. And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him (Daniel 11:30-45).
  • And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days (Daniel 12:11).

The incarnate Jesus definitely prophesied a future fulfillment of Antichrist events. However, many modern scholars equate this time of tribulation, and the entire Book of Revelation, with the two Jewish revolts, which brought about the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews.

  • But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains: And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment. But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter. For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days. And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect (Mark 13:14-22).

The Apostle Paul provided the warning signs for the approach of the End-Times and the Antichrist:

  • Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let (hinder), until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).

John further warned that an Antichrist spirit was already at work in the world (compare 2 Thess. 2:7):

  • Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time (1 John 2:18).
  • And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world (1 John 4:3).
  • For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist (2 John 1:7).

In the Revelation of John, the term Antichrist never appears; John sees a Beast arise, empowered by the Dragon (Devil), with seven heads and ten horns. One of the heads is wounded with a sword, then miraculously healed. A second beast, also called the False Prophet, creates an image of the first Beast, and demands both universal worship of the Beast and receipt of the Mark of the Beast in order to buy or sell. The first Beast is probably the World System, or One World Government, rather than a person.

  • And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:1-8).
  • And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six (Revelation 13:11-18).
  • And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name (Revelation 14:9-11).
  • And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God (Revelation 15:1-2).
  • And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image (Revelation 16:1-2).
  • And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds. And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty (Revelation 16:10-14).
  • And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns. The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth (Rome). And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore (Babylon), and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled (Revelation 17:7-17).
  • And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war (Armageddon) against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh (Revelation 19:19-21).
  • And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-4).
  • And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever (Revelation 20:10).

The rider on the white horse in Revelation 6:2, often identified as either Antichrist or Christ (see 19:11), is almost certainly neither, but simply an angelic, spiritual, or metaphorical representation of one of seven judgments to be unleashed upon the earth.

  • And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer (Revelation 6:2).

©2009 Paul A. Hughes – http://biblequestion.wordpress.com/2009/10/10/what-the-bible-says-about-the-antichrist/

pastor@cueroassembly.org


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