Sunday, November 05, 2006

Aseneth's God-Man

In the ancient Jewish, historiographical theology romance Joseph and Aseneth, a man who identifies himself as Chief of the House of the Most High and commander of the whole host of the Most High (14:8, 15:12) comes to comfort Aseneth and fill her with new life after a prolonged, repentive mourning drains her of the old one. There are several fascinating things worth mentioning about this man.

First, his appearance (14:9, 16:13) is similar to the description of the glowing, burning, lightning clad figure sitting on the merkabah or chariot throne in Ezekiel 1.

Second, like the Logos, this man wields the power of verbal creation, which Aseneth realizes when she says "you spoke and it [the honeycomb] came into being" (16:11).

Third, he calls to Aseneth in the same manner that the voice of Elohim called to Abraham and she answers in the same manner, "here I am" (14:4-7).

Fourth, he has written her name in the Book of Life with his own finger (15:4) and bestows to her eternal life (16:15-16).

Fifth, like Yahweh throughout the Old Testament, the man metaphorically renames people. Instead of Aseneth, Joseph's wife will be called City of Refuge (15:7).

Sixth, Aseneth continually refers to the man as Lord, the same title she uses to refer to Yahweh in her prayers and psalm. She then says of him after he departs, "(What a) foolish and bold (woman) I (am), because I have spoken with frankness and said that a man came into my chamber from heaven; and did not know that (a) god came to me" (17:9). She quickly asks God for forgiveness for speaking boldly to the man, saying, "I have spoken boldly before you".

Eighth, Aseneth asks his name so that she could praise and glorify his name forever (15:12x). The man does not rebuke her for wanting to glorify and praise him forever as we might expect or demand--only for wanting to know his name, which he says is too great for man to know.

Despite all that, the man always speaks of himself as something other than God. He continually differentiates between himself and the Most High so it is certain that although this man is for all intents and purposes God, and is called as much, he is yet something other.

(Translation and chapter/verse headings from C. Burchard in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: Vol 2.)


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