Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Phillip J. Long - Discussion of 1 Enoch, Part 3

Enoch Pleads with the Watchers – 1 Enoch 12-16

by Phillip J. Long
June 3, 2016

1 Enoch 12 introduces the reader to Enoch for the first time. He was hidden “before all this happened” with the “Watchers and holy ones” presumably for his protection. Since the phrase הָֽאֱלֹהִ֗ים in Genesis 5:22 could refer to God or angels, “walked with God” could be rendered “walked with angels.” 1 Enoch seems to take the phrase as angels, since Enoch speaks with the watchers in this section.

While Enoch is worshiping God in prayer, he is told to go to the Watchers who have “abandoned the high heaven” and “defiled themselves with women” and tell them of the destruction to come. This is not a warning which carries with it a chance of repentance: Enoch is announcing to these Watchers they will be in a place where they will “groan and beg forever over the destruction of their children, and there shall not be peace for them even forever” (verse 6).

In chapter 13 Enoch goes to Azazel and tells him the judgment which God has planned. All of these Watchers are seized with great fear and beg Enoch to write out a prayer of forgiveness to the Lord of Heaven. Enoch intends to do this, so he sits by the waters of Dan near Mount Hermon, where the Watchers first descended to earth. Dan is an ancient city at the headwaters of the Jordan near Mount Hermon. Enoch falls asleep and has a dream. After he awakens, he finds the Watchers at Lesya’el still weeping and covering their faces. He relates to the details of his dream, which contains “words of righteousness,” in fact, a reprimand to the Watchers.

The content of Enoch’s dream is the subject of 1 Enoch 14-16. In 14:1-7 Enoch tells the Watchers their prayers have not been heard and they will be punished for all eternity. The vision proper begins in verse 8. He is caught up into clouds and fog where he sees a “great house” surrounded by “tongues of fire.” The great house is described as built of white marble and lined with mosaics, with a crystal-like floor. There are fiery cherubim guarding the gates, which are also of fire. Enoch is terrified by this vision and he shakes and trembles greatly.

When he sees inside the house, he sees a great throne with “the Great Glory” sitting upon it. The imagery in this section is obviously drawn from several throne visions in the Old Testament, primarily Isaiah 6 and Ezekiel 1. Revelation 4 is likely influenced by the descriptions of the throne of God in Isaiah and Ezekiel rather than 1 Enoch, but they are all similar enough to think of these throne room scenes as well-known heavenly images.

Just as in Isaiah and Ezekiel, Enoch is unable to stand when he sees this vision of the throne, and he prostrates himself before the throne. The Lord calls to him near and then lifts him into the gate (although Enoch continues to lower his eyes). Revelation 4-5 is also heavily dependent on the throne vision of Ezekiel and to a lesser extent Isaiah. There are significant differences in Revelation with respect to the details of the imagery. While in 1 Enoch the whole heavenly environment is described, in Revelation the throne is of primary importance.

In chapters 15-16 God speaks to Enoch, although God is really addressing the Watchers who have left heaven. Presumably this is what Enoch related to them when he met them at Lesya’el in chapter 13. These angels will be judged because they abandoned their place and took human wives. Their children, the giants, will become evil spirits in the earth because they have a spiritual foundation (15:8-12). These spirits will continue to be corrupt until the “consummation of the great age” when “everything is concluded.”

This probably does not mean the “end of the world” but rather than end of the present age and the beginning of the next. E. P. Sanders and N. T. Wright constantly warn against thinking the Jews were looking forward to the end of space and time (contra Albert Schweitzer). The Watchers are told that they did not know all of the mysteries of Heaven. Because they have “broadcast” the mysteries they did know to the women of earth, they will have no peace (16:3).

The motif of Enoch as a called up to heaven to be given a mystery to relate to those about to be judged resonates with the general outline of the Book of Revelation. In his vision John also sees the heavenly throne room and sees the judgments to come. He too relates them to his readers so that they are prepared. In both 1 Enoch and Revelation there is no “end of the world,” but rather a restoration of the world to the original creation as God had designed it in the first place.

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Enoch’s Heavenly Journey – 1 Enoch 17-36

by Phillip J. Long
June 6, 2016

1 Enoch 17-19 contain Enoch’s first journey through the heavens. In this first vision there are a number of scenes which depict an ancient world view which graphically imagines how the orderly universe is maintained:

He sees the “high places” and storehouses of the earth where the rains and snows are kept. In chapter 18 he sees the storehouse of the wind, the cornerstone of the earth, and the pillars of heaven. He also sees a “dark pit” with heavenly fire, described as a “desolate and terrible place.” The angel who accompanies Enoch explains the dark pit as the place where the “stars and powers of heaven” are imprisoned because they failed to arrive punctually. They are imprisoned until the “year of mystery” (OTP 1:23, note y, one manuscript has “myriad of years,” Charles has “ten thousand years”). In chapter 19 the angel (now identified as Uriel) explains the dark pit as the place where the angels who defiled themselves with women will be placed. The fallen angels are said to have lead humans to sacrifice to demons, the first time this particular sin has been mentioned. The first vision concludes in 19:3 with a notice that Enoch alone among humans was allowed to see the vision.

Chapter 20 is a list of the names of the archangels and their functions:

  • Uriel (Suru’el), who is in charge of the world and over Tartarus
  • Raphael, who is over the spirits of men.
  • Reuel (Raguel), who takes vengeance on the world for the luminaries.
  • Michael, who is obedient in his benevolence over the people.
  • Sariel (Saraqa’el), who is set over the spirits of mankind who sin in the spirit.
  • Gabriel, who is over the paradise, the serpents and the cherubim.
  • Remiel, whom God set over those who rise (Remiel is only found in manuscript Ga2 as is therefore relegated to a footnote in OTP. Without Remiel, there are only six angels, explaining the addition of a seventh in some manuscripts).

1 Enoch 20:7-10 briefly describes the terrible prison of the fallen angels. The place is a narrow cleft filled with a great fire. Enoch cannot estimate the size of the place, but he is terrified because of the sight. Uriel tells him the fallen angels will be confined forever.

Chapters 21-27 record Enoch’s second journey. In this vision Enoch travels to the place of punishment of the fallen stars, which are the fallen angels. He sees a chaotic and terrible place in which seven stars as large as mountains are bound. When Enoch asks who the stars are Uriel chastises him for his eagerness. The angel explains the place as a prison-house for the angels who are detained there forever. On the west side of a great mountain Enoch sees a place where the dead assemble until the Day of Judgment (Chapter 22). Enoch sees the spirit which left Abel crying out for the descendants of Cain to be exterminated. From there he continues to the west where he sees the tracks of the sun, the “fire burning in the west” (Chapter 23).

In Chapters 24-25 Enoch goes to another place of the earth and was shown a huge mountain of fire. From there he could see seven other mountains made of precious stone and each more glorious than the next. The greatest of these summits is the throne on which God will sit “when he visits the earth with goodness” (25:3). On this mountain is a fragrant tree which no human has the authority to touch until the time of judgment. This is probably the Tree of Life from Paradise, similar to Revelation 22:2, 14 (4 Ezra 8:52). The fragrance of this tree will “penetrate their bones” and they will live a long life on the earth, “as you fathers lived in their days” (Some copies of 1 Enoch expand this to include “no sorrow, pain, torment, and plague shall not touch them”, Isaac 26, note l). This is a significant passage in the first section of Enoch since it looks forward to a time when God will visit the earth and begin a period of peace. This “kingdom” motif is more obvious later in Enoch and will be expanded greatly in later apocalyptic texts.

Enoch is taken to the “center of the earth” in Chapter 26, the city of Jerusalem (cf. Ezek. 5:5). A stream of water flows out of the holy mountain in several directions, similar to the description of the Temple in Ezekiel 47 and Revelation 22:1-5. From this vantage point he sees a desolate land with deep valleys and no trees growing in them. He asks the angel Uriel about this desolate land in Chapter 27. This is the place, the angel explains, where those who cursed the Lord and “utter hard words concerning the glory.” Isaac gives a marginal reference to Matthew 5:29-30, although the only connection is the use of the term gehenna for hell.

Chapters 28-36 are a number of brief “directional” journeys in which Enoch moves to the east, then the north, west and south, visiting various mountains with fragrant trees. In these places we read a description of the tree, the scent and flavor of the fruit, etc. In the north, west, and south he sees the gates of the rain and snow, etc. In 33:3-4 Enoch sees the gates of heaven opened and the stars of heaven coming out. Enoch records the names, ranks, seats, periods, and months of their coming and going. All this is explained to him by the angel Uriel along with the names, laws and companies of these stars. All of this information is not included in the book but forms something of a basis for the later astronomical texts written in Enoch’s name.

Although biblical apocalypses occasionally bring the seer into a heavenly throne room, there is nothing quite like Enoch’s heavenly travels. John sees heaven on several occasions (Rev 4-5; 11:19), but there is no journey through layers of heaven or hell.

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Dating the Similitudes – 1 Enoch 37-71

by Phillip J. Long
June 7, 2016

The book now known as 1 Enoch is a compilation of at least five smaller books. Chapters 1-36 or at least 6-36) are usually entitled The Book of the Watchers and this next section The Book of the Similitudes or the Parables of Enoch. A problem for dating these chapters is that the Similitudes have not been attested in the Qumran literature. Although Milik dated this section to A.D. 270, most scholars date the Similitudes after 40 B.C. based on the reference to the Parthians in [1 Enoch] 56:5:

“In those days, the angels will assemble and thrust themselves to the east at the Parthians and Medes. They will shake up the kings (so that) a spirit of unrest shall come upon them, and stir them up from their thrones; and they will break forth from their beds like lions and like hungry hyenas among their own flocks.”

Ethiopic Illuminated Gospel, 1300s.
It is possible this verse refers to a past attack from the east led by the Parthians and Medes. In 40 B.C. a governor of the Parthians name Barzapharnes invaded part of Judea to aid Antigonus II against Hyrcanus II (Josephus, JW 1.13.1–11;Antiq. 14.13.3–14.6). On the other hand, 1 Enoch 56 may be an intertextual allusion to classic eschatological texts like Joel 2:4-5, Zechariah 12; 14; and Ezekiel 38-39. James VanderKam considers a simple identification of these verses with the Parthian invasion is “is not without its problems” and that “one should exercise caution in employing these verses” to date the Similitudes (1 Enoch 2: Chapters 37–82, 209).

A second factor in dating this section is 67:8-13, verses which appear to allude to the last days of Herod the Great. In these verses “a poisonous drug of the body and a punishment of the spirit unto the kings, rulers, and exalted one.” Herod died at the hot springs at Kallirrhoë seeking relief from an excruciating disease (Josephus called this disease “God’s judgment upon him for his sins,” Antiq., 17.6.5). Although this seems to require a date after 4 B.C., but many Enoch scholars now consider an allusion to the death of Herod an interpolation into the text.

It may very well have been a part of the Enoch literature in the late first century B.C., but since the section is missing from the Dead Sea Scrolls, it is impossible to be certain. James Vanderkam suggests a range of 40 B.C. to A.D. 70 for these chapters, although “with some preference for the earlier part of this time span” (1 Enoch 2, 63).

The reason dating the Similitudes is important is the use of the term “son of man” in the Similitudes. (For a basic overview of the issues, see Collins, Apocalyptic Imagination, 177-193). Until the Aramaic fragments of the other four sections of Enoch were found at Qumran, the Similitudes were dated to the pre-Christian era and the phrase “son of man” in the gospels was thought to have been drawn from popular apocalyptic texts of the first century. Because the Qumran fragments are missing the Similitudes, it possible to argue they were not a part of the original, pre-Christian Enoch collection or that they have Christian interpolations.

Even if it is proven the Similitudes pre-date the New Testament, readers should be very cautious describing the relationship between the “son of man” sayings in the Gospels and 1 Enoch.

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The Book of Parables – 1 Enoch 37-44


by Phillip J. Long
June 8, 2016

After a brief genealogical introduction in chapter 37, Enoch is given three “parables.” These are not parables in the same sense as the parables of Jesus, but rather oracle-like material, hence the translation in OTP “thing” in 38:1:

  • Chapters 38-44 concern judgment,
  • Chapters 45-57 concern those who deny the name of the Lord, and
  • Chapters 58-69 concern the fate of the elect.
  • [Chapters 70-71], the final two chapters are a conclusion which add some legendary elements to the translation of Enoch.

The first parable concerns coming judgment from the perspective of the elect / righteous and the non-elect / unrighteous. Chapter 38 begins with the expectation of the “community of the righteous” appearing and the sinner of this world being judged (38:1). The Righteous One will appear before the community of the righteous and lead this judgment (38:2, 3). For those who denied the name of the Lord, it will be better that they never were born. This is said of the one who betrays Jesus (Mark 14:21; Matt 26:24). This is also a theme in the later Ezra literature when describing those who are facing torment in Hades (Greek Apocalypse of Ezra, 1:6, 21, 5:9, 14). This time of judgment is when the secrets of the Righteous One will be revealed (38:3) and all the kings of the earth will perish (38:5-6).

In Chapter 39 Enoch receives the “books of zeal and wrath” as well as the “books of haste and whirlwind.” Verses 3-8 is a description of Enoch’s experience of being swept up in a whirlwind from the earth into heaven where he saw the dwelling places of the righteous among the angels. This place under the “wings of the Lord of Spirits” is where the righteous will praise God forever. In 39:6 Enoch sees the “Elect One of Righteousness and of Faith,” presumably the same as the Righteous One in 38:3. Enoch responds to this vision in praise (39:9-14).

Enoch then sees a vision of hundreds of thousands of angels, innumerable and uncountable in chapter 40. Among these angelic beings are four “who do not slumber.” Like Revelation 4-5, there are four figures on the four side of the Lord of Spirits surrounded by an innumerable crowd of beings standing in the presence of God.

Michael, the merciful and forbearing.
Raphael, who is in charge of disease and wounds.
Gabriel who is in charge of all power of strength.
Phanuel, who is in charge of those whose hope is eternal life.

Enoch is introduced to all the secrets of heaven in Chapter 41, including how kingdoms break up and how the actions of people are weighed in the balance. He sees the cosmic stores (3-7) and the sun and moon, which no one can hinder. Chapter 42 continues the theme of mystery with a poetic personification of wisdom looking for her place among the children of men but eventually returning to dwell among the angels.

Chapters 43-44 describe other cosmic secrets such as lightning and the names of the stars of heaven. This personification of wisdom may be important background to the Gospel of John. In the prologue to John’s gospel, the Logos is with God in the beginning and comes down from heaven to dwell with men, although men do not recognize him (John 1:1-14). Here in 1 Enoch, personified wisdom also descends to dwell among men and returns to heaven.