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

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Confronting Christians with a God of Love or a God of Violence


Do Christians Serve a Janus-Faced God?

What does "loving our neighbor"mean in terms of a loving and responsible God? Perhaps this can be better defined by "what is it not?" In truth, it is the world which is seeing more clearly now than the church has been. What!? Has the Gospel changed? You bet. And for the better because parts of the church is trying to focus on universal solidarity rather than on particular exceptionalism.

And what about the bible? Is the OT wrong when interpreting God as violent, full of wrath, and judgmental? Or is it right when the Psalmist declares "God is good?"

So who gets to interpret this God of the OT? Perhaps we should let Jesus do this for whom our Christian creeds proclaim "Was-and-Is the Living God come to live amongst us."

But what about the NT's apocalypticisms's declaring the Living God will come back in wrath to condemn the quick and the dead? Is this the correct reading of the bible as continuation of the OT's declarations? Or, was Jesus the perfect picture of God who died for us at our cruel hands upon his holy personage?

Perhaps, its not God who comes to judge us but our own sin which will tear this old world apart should we not heed God's call to commit to loving one another even to the point of sacrificing our lives for each other for love's sake. Certainly this is not the kind of victorious Gospel we wish to read here. Especially in an America so use to writing its own mimetic scripts of worthiness in comparison to the "other" nations of the world!


But what if the script of our actions has been wrong? And what if our script of a vengeful, war-like God, has been wrong? And what if our responsibility is to be in solidarity with this sin-torn world rather than as its enemy? Well, as Jesus might say, these are a lot of "what-ifs" to answer should we be wrong about His gospel of love, mercy, peace, and forgiveness; a gospel which is without a sword, or a military, but one filled with sacrificial servants serving humanity for God's sake if not for our own as a society in solidarity with one another.

If so, then the popular gospel of "who's in and who's out" we hold in our heads doesn't match up with the gospel written in Jesus' blood demanding us to throw away its worthless rags for a better one. One that will tear apart the old wineskins of hatred and repression for an expanding and fermenting wineskin of solidarity and love. The Christian gospel must be a gospel with no tolerance for an unloving, violent God. Why? For such a God is a kind of God whom we must act out as His hands and feet. As a friend has said:
"You cannot separate the belief in the violent God (who is planning on sending all the gays to be tortured forever in Hell) from the acts of violence committed in his name. Reading the Bible in a way that ends up with a god who you have to keep reminding people was “vengeful and full of wrath” has real-world consequences." - Michael Hardin
And if this be the case than it is us who must change in our reading of the bible towards a bible wider than we thought, more inclusive of those than we, as its Pharisees, would wish to behold. A bible that washes feet with crushed hearts, opens blinded eyes with incredulity, and beholds Jesus coming in the clouds to save us - not to rip mankind apart.

Peace,

R.E. Slater
June 15, 2016

*ps - the following article gets my full approval.


* * * * * * * * *


Before We Forget About Orlando,
Here Are 4 Ways Christians Need To Change
https://theboeskool.com/2016/06/14/before-we-forget-about-orlando-here-are-4-ways-christians-need-to-change/

June 14, 2016

Outrage is like catnip to some people…myself included. We find an issue to be mad about, we make a couple of Tweets, and we post some articles on Facebook… And that’s about it. But the kind of anger we experience is meant to spur us into ACTION. Instead, we get the relief of being angry about things, and even experiencing some corporate outrage in the echo chambers of social media… Then we feel a little bit better, and move onto the next issue–But nothing really CHANGES. It’s a counterfeit. And then–a few months later–when the same exact sort of injustice happens again, we’re left wondering, “Why hasn’t anyone DONE something about this!?!” Well, before we all more on to the next issue, I’d like to suggest a few things that actually need to change… Particularly within my tribe: Christianity.

1. Change The Way You Read The Bible

Stop reading the Bible the way that ISIS reads the Qur’an. The people who commit horrible acts like what happened in Orlando are the sort of people who are CERTAIN that their way of understanding scripture is the one right way. If you are the kind of person who tries to quote a verse in Leviticus to “prove” that God hates homosexuality, you are part of the problem. And if you are the sort of person who thinks one verse that has Jesus telling his disciples to “buy a sword” negates the overwhelming call for nonviolence on Jesus’ followers, again, you are part of the problem. The shooter’s father said (in a video comment), “The issue of homosexuality and its punishment–all that they do–God himself will give punishment to homosexuality. It is not for people to decide.” This way of seeing things isn’t about Christianity or about Islam.. It’s about fundamentalism. It’s about a dangerous certainty that informs the way people read scripture, and interprets what is read as having God be for *them* and against everyone else.

If you feel threatened when you see a flag like this,
you are probably reading the Bible the wrong way…

I don’t care what religion you call yourself–You cannot separate the belief in the violent God (who is planning on sending all the gays to be tortured forever in Hell) from the acts of violence committed in his name. Reading the Bible in a way that ends up with a god who you have to keep reminding people was “vengeful and full of wrath” has real-world consequences. And right now we are seeing the fruits of those beliefs in a hate-filled God… We are seeing the fruits of the garbage that is “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” This. Needs. To change. There are other ways to read and understand the Bible (THIS IS THE BEST EXPLANATION OF THAT I HAVE EVER READ).

2. Change The Way You Pray

Telling people you are “praying for them,” while believing that the god you are praying to hates them enough to send them to Hell is one of the most F’ed Up things that I can imagine. Most of those same people probably believe that I’m going to Hell also. And I totally get why you’d think I’m going to Hell… We believe in completely different Gods! You believe in the god who hates his enemies, and I believe in the God who LOVES his enemies. Either way, if our prayers are to have any significance at all, our prayers need to become loving actions. Otherwise, what are they worth? In the Bible, James writes about this…

“What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?Suppose you see a brother or a sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”–but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.”

There was a neat story about Chick-Fil-A workers going into work on a Sunday (when Chick-Fil-A is usually closed) and making sandwiches to give to the people who were waiting in-line to give blood. And as awesome as this is, if it’s done out of some desire to save people from hellfire, it is “dead and meaningless.” We’re not trying to feed people as a means to an end… Hoping to get them to say some meaningless, magical prayer that will save them FROM a monstrous God who is sending everyone but a very select few to be tortured forever. We feed people because they are hungry. We feed people because they are people. We love people because they are worthy of being loved. And we remind them that they have infinite worth, and that there is a Force in the universe that loves them wildly… Regardless of where they are from. Regardless of what name they have for God. Regardless of what they have or what they look like… And yes–Regardless of who they love.

If you don’t feel comfortable sitting next to people in church, you probably don’t have any business
telling them they are in your #ThoughtsAndPrayers. This photo was taken by the amazing Tabitha
Hawk… A member of our Church.

All over the place, we saw people summoning “Thoughts and Prayers” for the victims in Orlando, and for their families… But many of the people making those pleas were the very same folks who have been actively working to pass laws that make it legal for people to discriminate against the sorts of people who might go to a club like Pulse on a Saturday night. And those same folks call for a”moment of silence” in honor of the ones who died? I agree with Rep. Jim Hines, who said that these, “smug, self-empowering moments of silence in the House… do absolutely nothing for anybody.” If there is any sort of abomination involved here, it is the process of going through the motions of “honoring” a group of people you believe are worthless–Or at least worth less. Keep your moments of silence. Silence is what the LGBT community has been getting for a very long time from many of our elected leaders… I doubt they need any more. Which leads me to my next change…

3. Change The Way You Vote

Somewhere around 90% of Americans favor stricter gun control laws. Do you have any idea how hard it is right now to get 90% of Americans to agree on ANYTHING?!? It is next to impossible. There is absolutely no rational reason for people to be able to buy military weapons that are designed to kill many people in a very short amount of time. And even though the republican allegiance to the NRA is easier to see, this is far from an issue that is split down party lines… There are plenty of democrats who are bought and sold by the NRA as well. These are people who profit off of our fear, and they need to be voted out. This is a public health crisis. As Nicholas Kristof wrote (and was proven true), “More Americans have died from guns in the United States since 1968 than on battlefields of all the wars in American history.” Yet we have a legislature that is so owned by the NRA that it doesn’t allow our government to keep statistics on gun deaths anymore, or even STUDY gun violence. President Obama explains this better than I could ever hope to in this video:

Why restrict 'good' gun owners, resident asks
President Obama at town hall meeting

[Held at a town hall meeting in Elkhart, Indiana, on June 1, 2016,
Hosted by PBS NewsHour co-anchor Gwen Ifill.]



This video is so very important for all of us to watch. This situation is not hopeless.There are things we can do to make our world safer. And save lives. If you want to call yourself “Pro-Life,” then BE pro life. We have an election right around the corner. Please–If you care about this, vote in a way that reflects that concern. Twenty of the lives that were lost in Newtown were kids. These 49 young lives taken in Orlando were people’s children.If all of the people who claimed to be Christians voted in a way that reflected actually being “Pro-life” for more than just Life Before Birth, we could actually DO SOMETHING to make these sorts of tragedies less likely. And I realize people will say things like “People who want to murder can do it with a knife or a hammer” or “Cars kill people–should we ban those too?” or some other BS… But here’s the thing: Cars have uses other than killing people. And if this jack hole in Orlando had walked into that night club with a knife or a hammer, there would be a whole lot fewer calls that had to be made to parents, explaining that the child they love has been killed by a madman–A maniac who we have guaranteed the right to freely purchase a weapon of mass destruction. I get it–Murderers are still going to murder… But we don’t have to make it so easy for them.

4. Change Where You Go To Church

If you go to a church that doesn’t welcome queer folks every bit as fully as you would welcome straight people, you can keep your #ThoughtsAndPrayers. The Church was never meant to be a place of exclusion. The way Christians have treated the LGBT community will soon be looked back on in the same shameful way we look back on the way the Church justified discrimination and hatred and exclusion of People of Color and women. If you feel your heart breaking and changing and evolving on the issue of inclusion within Christianity, you don’t have to stay in a place that preaches exclusion. There are other options… Churches like the one my family and I attend. Last year a whole bunch of people from our church went to Nashville’s Pride event, and we walked in the rain along side our LGBT brothers and sisters, as people calling themselves “Christians” shouted hateful garbage through their megaphones. It was lovely… the day was filled with the kindest folks you’ll ever meet. I took my kids. They loved it. Here’s a picture from last year’s Pride:

That’s me over on the right, along with a couple of my kiddos. We can’t wait to go back this
month… And no act of violence by some deranged fundamentalist could keep us from
returning to stand with our friends.

My life is so much richer for having people in it who are different than me. And belonging to a faith community that reflects that reality has been so life-giving. I feel so sorry for those people who go to a church where they feel like they may be the only person in the building who cried their eyes out watching “Rent.” There is no reason why anyone should feel trapped in a church that is focused on exclusion. If the people you are surrounded with respond to tragedies like the Orlando massacre with demonization of Muslims, blaming of immigrants, calls for even more weapons of war, and silence on the hypocrisy of prayers to a God who supposedly looks on these victim’s orientation as being one that is worthy of death, THERE ARE OTHER PLACES FOR YOU TO GO TO CHURCH. Vote with your feet. Christianity has never been about exclusion. If your church community is more about who it keeps out than who it welcomes in, you are in the wrong kind of church. If Christianity is to be worth anything at all, then we must be allies and advocates and friends to the vulnerable people around us. We must be examples of rational minds and radical love… And not the other way around.

Phillip J. Long - Discussion of 1 Enoch, Part 5

The Third Parable – 1 Enoch 58-63
https://readingacts.com/2016/06/14/the-third-parable-1-enoch-58-63/

by Phillip J. Long
June 14, 2016

Chapters 58-71 contain the third “parable” of the Similitudes. Chapter 58 introduces this last parable concerns the “glorious portion” awaiting the righteous and elect. The content of the parable is more concerned with revealing to Enoch mysteries and secrets of creation and the angelic order. Chapter 59, for example, is a brief description of the mysteries of lightning and thunder. Enoch is taught how to divine good or bad from thunder and lightning.

Chapters 60-61 are lengthy descriptions of creation not unlike the final chapters of the book of Job. In the opening paragraph Enoch is caught up into heaven where he sees millions of angels and the Antecedent of Time sitting on a throne surrounded by glory. As is typical in apocalyptic vision literature, Enoch is struck with great fear by the amazing scene and is unable to stand. Michael the archangel lifts Enoch and strengthens him. Michael explains to Enoch that the day of mercy has lasted until the present time but now a day of punishment has arrived (60:1-6).

Two mythical monsters have been prepared for this day, Leviathan from the “fountains of the Waters” and Behemoth who holds an invisible desert in his chest. This desert is called Dunadayin, possibly the “land of Nod” from Genesis 4:16 (OTP1:40, note p).

In verses 11-25 another angel gives Enoch a “tour” of the storerooms of heaven, concluding with the two monsters turning into food for the righteous in the garden (60:24-25). The garden is measured in chapter 61 by angles using long ropes. By measuring the garden the angels seem to be defining the place not only where the elect ones will dwell but who the elect are – the dead will return and stay in the place along with the Lord of Spirits and his Elect One. Measuring has a connotation of both protection (Zech.2:1-5) and judgment (2 Kings 21:13, Amos 7:7-9 Isaiah 34:11) in the Old Testament. The most important “measuring” scene in the background of 1 Enoch is likely Ezekiel 40:1-42:20, cf. Revelation 10.

After the garden is measured, the Elect One is placed on his “throne of glory” by the Lord of Spirits and all of the elect worship him (61:8-9). This worship is joined by all of the ranks of angels in heaven, all singing with one voice “Blessed is he and may the name of the Lord of Spirits be blessed forever and evermore” (61:12). Even the Elect One is included in this worship.

Chapters 62 and 63 turn to the fate of the “ruling class” who have oppressed the righteous. The rulers of this world are commanded to look upon the Elect One, who in chapter 60 was placed on a throne of glory by the Lord of Spirits. Now it is the Lord of Spirits who is seated on the throne of glory and the spirit of righteousness is poured out on him (62:2). Heb. 12:23 is quite similar to the overall context of the third similitude, although there is no direct connection. Those who have demonstrated faith have come to the holy city (rather than a garden) along with thousands upon thousands of angels, the “elect” in the form of the church, and to God, the judge of all and all the men who have the “spirit of righteousness.”

This judgment is described as “birth pangs” (62:4); all the kings of the earth will be terrified and dejected when they see “that Son of Man” who was concealed by the Most High One until he was revealed to his elect ones (62:7). The elect will rejoice over the judgment of their oppressors (62:12) and will dwell with the Son of Man in peace “forever and ever” (62:14). This congregation of the elect will have “risen from the earth” and will be clothed with eternal “garments of glory” given to them by the Lord of Spirits (62:15-16). Those who are under the judgment of the Lord of Spirits worship the Lord and beg for mercy and confess what they have done (63:1-10). This long prayer by the judged seems to underscore the righteousness of the judgment against them. The Lord of Spirits is correct and fair in his condemnation of the kings of the earth.


* * * * * * * * * * *


The Third Parable – 1 Enoch 64-71
https://readingacts.com/2016/06/15/the-third-parable-1-enoch-64-71/

by Phillip J. Long
June 15, 2016

Chapters 64-69 returns to the subject of the judgment of the Flood. After a brief note describing the fallen angels who sinned in the earth (chapter 61), the narration shifts to Noah. In chapter 65 Noah goes to his grandfather Enoch and complains about the wickedness in the world. Enoch responds by crying out sorrowfully and predicting the destruction of the world. In 65:6-12 Enoch describes the sins of the world which have resulted in the coming deluge.

Enoch then shows to Noah the angels who have been prepared to cause the destruction of the flood (65). Noah is told by the Lord that the angels have constructed an ark which he will bless to preserve Noah and his family so that they alone survive the coming flood. The flood is intended to imprison the fallen angels although the flood waters will be a poison to the kings and princes of the world (67:8-9). These kings and princes are punished because they denied the “spirit of the Lord (67:8, 10). Michael instructs Noah in the “secret things” which were written in Enoch’s book (68:1). Michael and Raphael lament the destruction of the flood, but agree it is a just judgment (68:2-5).

Chapter 69 forms a conclusion to the flood narrative by listing the names (onomastica) of the fallen angels along with their role in bringing sin to humanity. Twenty-one names are listed in verse two, nearly the same list as in 6:7. Several names are listed with additional commentary:

Yeqôn – the one who lead the angels to come to earth in the first place.

Asb’êl – The angel who advised the other angels to go to the daughters of men.

Gâdr’êl – The angel who lead Eve astray and taught men to kill; he shows humans how to make weapons and armor, the “instruments of death.”

Pênêm’e – The angel who taught men the secret wisdom of making paper and ink, causing men to sin “eternity to eternity and until this day.”

Kâsdeyâ – This angel taught humans “wicked smitings” of “flagellations of evil,” including how to smite an embryo in the womb to kill it (i.e., abortion).

The angel Bîqâ has a hidden name which he reveals to Michael when he swears an oath (66:16-26). This secret oath describes all of creation as glorifying God and thanking him forever. The oath results in great joy because that “the Son of Man” has been revealed. Here the Son of Man is described as eternal (“he will never pass away from the earth,” verse 27) and once again seated on a throne of glory in judgment.

Chapters 70-71 form an appendix to the Similitudes since the last line of chapter 69 is the end of the third parable. In this appendix Enoch is taken to heaven in a “wind chariot” and placed between two winds. An angel measures the place of the elect where Enoch sees the patriarchs of old (70:4). His spirit continues to ascend until he is in the “heaven of heavens” (71:5). There he sees a structure made of crystals with four sides, surrounded by “living fire.” He sees countless angels, including the four archangels, all worshiping the Antecedent of Days. From this point on there will be peace and righteousness (71:15-16). The elect will dwell with “that Son of Man” who rules in the name of the Lord of Spirits forever.

The elect will dwell with “that Son of Man” who rules in the name of the Lord of Spirits forever. Who is this son of man? The “Head of Days” tells Enoch that “You (are) that Son of Man who was born for righteousness” (71:14). Charles dropped this line from his translation since he did not think the author would identify Enoch as the son of man, but as VanderKam points out, “Charles’s tour de force, however, has no foundation in the MSS” (1 Enoch 2, 328). The suggestion that the Head of Days says Enoch is “a son of man” is also rejected by VanderKam. He concludes the phrase does identify Enoch as the son of man, but this is “an installation formula,” commissioning Enoch. It is perhaps “a first step toward the angelification” of Enoch in the Enoch literature.


* * * * * * * * * * *


The Parables of 1 Enoch and the New Testament
https://readingacts.com/2016/06/16/the-parables-of-1-enoch-and-the-new-testament/

by Phillip J. Long
June 16, 2016

The general apocalyptic context of the parables section of 1 Enoch may provide context for the reading of the New Testament, especially the Gospels. When John the Baptist and Jesus appear preaching the Kingdom of God as “at hand,” the original audience would have been quite familiar with the phrase and all that it represented. For the Jew of the first century, the idea of “kingdom” was clear – it was to be the time when God reestablished Israel in the Land. 1 Enoch shares many of these ideas, especially the Book of Parables. It is difficult to know the extent to which the language and themes of the Parables influenced popular thinking in first century Palestine, especially since this section is the only part of 1 Enoch missing from the Qumran literature. With these caveats in mind, the following themes seem to be present in both the Parables and the Gospels.

First, this section anticipates a time of suffering and testing for the elect. The righteous have suffered and shed blood (47:1-2, 4). In 56:5-8 the Parthians and Medes will invade and trample the holy city. The righteous are downcast (62:15) and are being afflicted by the wicked (50:1). The suffering of the elect is not as detailed as the eventual suffering of the wicked, although it is implied in the descriptions of the wicked. The suffering of the wicked is described as birth-pains (62:4). In the Olivet Discourse Jesus used similar language to describe the period just prior to the Parousia. The Similitudes do not have anything like the suffering described in Revelation or the Olivet Discourse, but there is an implication throughout that the righteous are “innocent victims” of the evil schemes of the fallen angels and the kings of this world.

Second, this time of suffering will come to an end when “that Son of Man” is placed on his glorious throne and judges the oppressors. When the Elect One comes the day of salvation has come for the righteous (39:6-7, 50:1-2, 51:2, 62:12-13) and the whole earth will rejoice in the in the coming of the Elect One (51:4-5). The coming of the Elect One will result in rest from oppression for the righteous (53:6-7). The elect one will sit on a “throne of glory” to establish justice (45:3-5, 62:3) The righteous will become like the light of the sun and the days of their life will be unending (58:1-3, 61:5-6). Heaven and earth will be transformed into a blessing (44:5-6) and there will be a period of peace. In fact, it was the fallen angels who taught man to make war and weapons of war. The Elect One will restore man to his peaceful state. (52:8-9).

Third, the judgment of the wicked and sinners is quite detailed in 1 Enoch. When the Righteous One appears, the sinners “will be driven from the face of the earth” (38:1) and melt like wax, powerless (52:6). The Elect One will judge Azaz’el and “all the hosts in the name of the Lord of Spirits” (55:4). Kings and rulers will perish (38:5) and the sinner will not be allowed to ascend into heaven (45:2). The Elect One will sit on the seat of glory to make a selection based on the deeds (45:3, 61:8) and there will be no time for repentance for the wicked (62:1-4). Angelic beings are set aside for punishing the kings of this world (53:3-5). The wicked will be punished in a deep valley of burning fire and molten metal where they will be in chains with rough stones on their jaws (54:1-6, 67:6). They will be scourged by “angels of punishment” in this abyss-like valley (56:1-4, 67:1-8) The judgments which will fall on the sinners are called “punishments” (41:2, 53:3, 54:7, 56:1, 60:6) and “wrath” (55:3, 60:12). In later apocalyptic the punishment of the wicked is described in increasingly gory detail (100:3, cf. Ezek. 39:17; Rev 14:20, SibOr. 3:796-808).

In the teaching of Jesus there are a number of parables which make the same sort of statements about the coming messianic age. At that time there will be a harvest and the good wheat will be separated from the bad weeds (Mt 13:24-30) or clean fish from the unclean (13:47-50). In each of these two examples, the “bad” element is placed in a place of fire (a furnace, to be burned up) but the “good” element is placed where it ought to go (the barn, for example.) The Olivet Discourse contains five parables which run along the same lines. There is an unproductive or unprepared character (a lazy servant, foolish virgin, the “goat”) who faces judgment at the surprise return of the delayed central character (the master, the bridegroom, the king). The productive and prepared characters are rewarded by the central character when he unexpectedly returns.

Fourth, the last of these parables is the most eschatological, the so-called Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. Jesus constantly refers to himself as the Son of Man in the gospels, a title that is probably derived from Daniel 7:13-14, where someone who is “like a son of man” comes before the ancient of Days to receive the authority to rule (see Mt 19:28, Rev. 1:13). There is little doubt that his disciples could miss his point that this is the “second coming” that they asked about at the beginning of chapter 24. There is a combination of several metaphors in this passage. Jesus is the Son of Man, the King of Glory, and the Great Shepherd all at the same time. This glorious arrival of the Son of Man is accompanied by “all his angels” (Zech. 14:5). When the Son of Man returns as king, he will sit upon a glorious throne and judge the nations, assigning them to their eternal destiny. This general outline is quite compatible with the general apocalyptic outline of the Similitudes.

Fifth, one of the more striking parallels to Elect One / Lord of Spirits is Luke 4:18. Jesus reads from Isaiah 61:1-2, “the Spirit of the Lord has anointed me,” and applies this text to himself. In Matthew 25:31 the King returns and is seated in his “glorious throne” and gathers the nations to judge them, an apocalyptic influenced parable-like saying in which Jesus makes it clear he is the returning king. The frequent self-description of Jesus as the “Son of Man” is also critical in this context. When Jesus used this phrase, along with many of the other apocalyptic images used in the Similitudes, did his original listeners hear them in the context of texts like 1 Enoch 61 and 62? When he cited Isaiah 61:1-2 as fulfilled that day, his hearers certainly understood Jesus was claiming something extraordinary although we cannot be sure exactly what it was they were reacting to in Jesus’ claim.

Sixth, those who possess salvation are often described in terms of pure clean garments in the New Testament (62:15, 71:1). Paul describes salvation as a “heavenly dwelling” and garment in 2 Cor. 5:2-4. Revelation makes use of this image several times: 3:5-6 describes the righteous in Sardis as not having “soiled their clothes” while the unrighteous of Laodicea still shamefully naked. Several times in Revelation those who worship the throne of God are described as “dressed in white” (4:4, 6:11, 7:9, 13, 14, 19:14).

Conclusion. Although there is no New Testament text that can be described as a quote or a direct allusion to the Book of Parables in 1 Enoch, some of the writers if the New Testament have the same apocalyptic spirit. This is not surprising since both are products of Second Temple period Judaism.

Phillip J. Long - Discussion of 1 Enoch, Part 4

The Second Parable – 1 Enoch 45-49
https://readingacts.com/2016/06/09/the-second-parable-1-enoch-45-49/

by Phillip J. Long
June 9, 2016

The second parable in the Book of Similitudes (chapters 45-57) is a description of the eschatological judgment of the wicked and the vindication of the righteous. In many ways this is the most interesting section of the parables so I will break it up over three posts. The parable begins with a description of what happens to those who deny the name of the Lord of Spirits. Chapter 45 is a poetic introduction to the second section and describes “that day” when “my Elect One will sit on the seat of glory” (verse 3-4). Heaven and earth will be transformed and the righteous will dwell on the new earth.

Chapter 46 describes the Elect One and is one of the critical sections in First Enoch. He will have a head white like wool and have a countenance full of grace. This description is similar to the angel in Daniel 10, and the description of Jesus in Revelation 1. 1 Enoch likely stands in between these two descriptions; Revelation and 1 Enoch are dependent on Daniel 10. He will be born among human beings and have a face of a human, and is a “prototype of the Before-Time” (verse 3). He will be “that Son of Man” on whom righteousness dwells. This Son of Man will open up the hidden storehouses and is destined to be victorious before the Lord of Spirits (46:3). The One will remove kings from their comfortable seats and strong ones from their thrones, loosen the reins of the strong and crush the teeth of sinners (46:4). The faces of the strong will be slapped and they will be filled with shame and have no hope (46:6).

This “reversal” may be important for the setting of the ministry of John the Baptist who describes the coming messianic age in terms of a “settling” of scores (Luke 2:7-19). Jesus’ extended condemnation of the Pharisees in Matthew 23 certainly has a “reversal” motif. Similarly, in Matthew 7:15-23 Jesus says that not all who are expected to be “in the kingdom” will be – even those who claim to do miracles in the Lord’s name (the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins in Matthew 25:1-13). While 1 Enoch clearly has the nations in mind, Jesus’ idea of reversal seems to operate on a spiritual level. Those who think they are spiritually prepared for the kingdom may not be and may find themselves on the outside when the kingdom comes. [this would include those in the church as well contra popular thought - res]

The prayer of the righteous is recorded in chapter 47. The prayers and blood of the righteous go up to heaven before the Lord of Spirits all of the time. Enoch sees the “Antecedent of Time” sitting on his throne, with the books opened before him (Dan 7:10, 12:1, Rev 20:12-15). As the righteous worship him, he prepares to judge. In Chapter 48:1-2 Enoch sees the fountains of wisdom. Earlier in chapter 42 wisdom was searching for a place to dwell, now wisdom is pictured as a fountain in heaven from to which all may come and drink.

After this, the Son of man receives a name in the presence of the Lord of Spirits (48:3), but it is a name which is given to him from before the beginning of time. This Son of Man appears, therefore, to pre-exist, since we read in 48:6 he was chosen before the creation of the world. He will become a “staff for the righteous ones,” people may lean on him and not fall; he will be the hope of the sick and all who dwell on the earth will worship him (48:4-5, cf. 62:6, 9, 63, 90:37; Ps. 72:9, 11; Phil. 2:10.) He will be the light of the Gentiles (Isa. 42:6, 49:6, cf. Luke 2:32) and the righteous will be saved by his name (48:7).

There are many obvious parallels to the presentation of Jesus as the Messiah in the New Testament. As I suggested earlier, caution is necessary because this section does not appear in Dead Sea Scrolls. This means there is always the possibility of Christian editing of this text to give additional support to a particular view of Jesus. On the other hand, even this section of 1 Enoch stands in a stream of messianic expectations beginning in the Hebrew Bible. It should come as no surprise a Jewish apocalyptic movement like the earliest Christians should be similar to the expectations of 1 Enoch.

All these writers were reading the same prophets from the Hebrew Bible and attempting to apply those prophecies to their own experiences.


* * * * * * * * * *


The Second Parable – 1 Enoch 50-52
https://readingacts.com/2016/06/10/the-second-parable-1-enoch-50-52/

by Phillip J. Long
June 10, 2016

James VanderKam calls this section a “Scenario for the End Time” because all of the powerful beings will be humiliated “in those days.” They will delivered into the hand of the Chosen One like grass to the fire or lead to the water. The image of grass being taken to a fire at the time of the harvest is used by Jesus in several parables (for example, the wheat and the tares, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43). The reason they are delivered for judgment is that they have denied the name of the Lord of Spirits and his Messiah. Isaacs translates this as Messiah, although it is possible to translate it simply as “anointed one” (Charles).

Chapter 50 describes the renewal of the righteous from their time of weariness. This includes a judgment in which the sinners receive evil and the righteous receive good. The righteous are to be saved through the “name of the Lord of Spirits” who will lead people to repentance. This chapter stresses the justice of the judgment of the Lord of Spirits – “oppression cannot escape him.” Those who are under his judgment no longer receive mercy (verse 5).


Chapter 51 is in many ways the most important chapter in the Similitudes for New Testament studies since it deals with the resurrection of the dead. The context is eschatological (“in those days,” parallel to the judgment in 50:1). Sheol will give up all the dead and the “Elect One” will sit on his throne and pick out of the risen dead the holy ones (50:1-2). The elect will sit on the throne of the Lord (51:3) and hear wisdom from the mouth of the Elect One. After this resurrection, the “mountains will skip like rams” and the whole earth will rejoice (51:5). This is an allusion to Psalm 114:4 and the messianic age. Verse four possibly connects the resurrection of the dead to the rising of the Elect One.

Chapter 52 describes a series of mountains made up of various metals (iron, copper, silver, gold, a “colored metal” and lead. When the Elect One arrives, these mountains all melt like honeycomb before fire and become like water at his feet. The mountains seem to represent the nations of the world (similar to the metals in Daniel 2, although there it is a single statue rather than mountains.) That the mountains will melt before the coming Messiah is found in several Old Testament prophets. The mountains seem to be “the nations” in this section of 1 Enoch since in chapter 54 the mountains “become flat” (cf., John the Baptist in Luke 3:1-6) in the presence of the righteous when the kings of the earth are thrown into a valley of burning fire. This chapter clearly connects the Elect One and the Messiah (verses 4, 6).


* * * * * * * * * *


A Final Judgment– 1 Enoch 53-57
https://readingacts.com/2016/06/13/a-final-judgment-1-enoch-53-57/

by Phillip J. Long
June 13, 2016

Judgment imagery comes to a climax in chapters 53-57 with Enoch’s visions based on a deep valley. At first Enoch sees a vision of a deep valley filled with “gifts and tribute” brought by all the inhabitants of the earth. This tribute does nothing to stop the judgment, however (“the valley will never be filled”) and the sinners are judged by the Lord of Spirits. In verse three the prophet sees angels preparing the “chains of Satan.” One is tempted to find a parallel to Revelation 20 (Satan is himself bound by an angel with a chain and put into the Abyss), but these chains are for the kings of the earth.


David Aune lists 1 Enoch 54 as an example of the common an “apocalyptic motif” of the binding of Satan or other angelic beings, along with 2 Apoc Baruch 56:13,SibOr 2.289, Jude 6, 2 Peter 2:4 (Revelation 17-22, 1081). Of Aune’s suggested allusions, only Revelation 20 describes the binding of Satan with chains. These chains are for the armies of Azaz’el (54:5) who are cast into the abyss. It is the four archangels who seize the kings and cast them into the furnace of fire prepared for that day. This judgment is described as a “vengeance” by the Lord of Spirits because these kings performed oppressive deeds as messengers of Satan.

Once the kings of the world are bound, the Elect one reveals the “house of his congregation” and the “mountains become flat” (53:6-7). This is probably a reference to the judgment of all of the kingdoms of the earth when the Messiah reveals and establishes his rule. In the Gospels, John the Baptist connects the leveling of mountains and filling of valleys from Isaiah 40:3-5 with the coming of the messianic age (Luke 3:5), although this is often taken as a leveling of ethical social barriers in the ministry of Jesus. For example, Darrel Bock suggests “the images call the hearer of John’s message to realize that God is coming in judgment and that only the humble who rely on him will be spared” (Luke 1:1-9:50, 294).

In 54:7-55:2 there is a brief insertion from what may be the lost “Book of Noah” (OTP 38, note e; Charles, Commentary, 2:221 states Jubilees 10:13 and 21:10 mention a “Book of Noah.”) There are some notable differences in this section which mark it out as different from the rest of the Similitudes. For example, God is called the Antecedent of Time (55:1) as well as the Lord of Spirits. Distinct flood imagery is found in this paragraph (the waters above and below, the sign of the rainbow, etc.). The eschatological judgment is missing in favor of the historical judgment of the flood.

The demon Azaz’el himself is judged in 55:3-56:4 by the Elect One himself, sitting on his throne of glory in the name of the Lord of Spirits. (The name Azaz’el has unfortunately been used in many books and films.) This is an important text because the eschatological judgment is given by the Lord of Spirits to the Elect One. In John 5:22 Jesus states the Father has entrusted judgment to the Son. While this verse is not obviously eschatological, Revelation 4-5 seems to expand on this theme. In these two chapters, the “one who sits on the throne” has a sealed scroll, which appears from the context to be “judgment” on the world. But the “one who sits on the throne” is unable to open the scroll and execute judgment. It is only the “Lamb who was slain” who is worthy to execute the judgments found in the scroll. That God would hand the final eschatological judgment over to a representative seems to be consistent with the apocalyptic scheme of 1 Enoch.

After Azaz’el and his armies are judged angels are sent with nets to collect the “elect” in order to fill the crevices of the abyss-like valley. These elect are those kings of the earth who followed Azaz’el – verse four indicates they will no longer lead others astray. In 56:5-8 we are told that the angels will assemble against the Parthians and the Medes. The Parthians will be stirred to battle and overrun the land of the elect ones, Israel. (Charles suspected 56:5-57:3 to be an interpolation since it is far more specific than anything else in the Similitudes. Commentary, 2:221).

This army will become confused when they get to the city of righteousness (Jerusalem) and will begin to attack one another. Armies which become confused and destroy themselves are not uncommon in the Old Testament, see Judges 7 and 1 Samuel 14. Sheol will “open her mouth” and swallow up all of the sinners “in the presence of the elect ones.” The vision of the second parable ends with a description of a vast army of chariots riding in the air from the east to the west. The army is so loud the foundations of the earth shake and can be heard from one end of the earth to the other. As a result of this army, all will fall down and worship the Lord of Spirits (verse 3).