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This is part eight of an eight part blog response to a posting by Daniel O. McClellan entitled, “The Angel of Yahweh in Early Hebrew Bible Narrative,” which was dated June 16, 2011 on WordPress.

Daniel finishes his article with the following statement:

“In conclusion, the notion that the angel is a hypostasis of God or so closely represents him that their identities merge without comment or explanation is simply a rationalization that is subordinate to the necessity of a synchronic or univocal reading of the text. Without such a demand the only logical conclusion is that the angel of Yahweh in these early biblical narratives is a late interpolation, probably from some late- or post-Deuteronomistic writer.”

Essentially I have given alternative answers to Daniel’s claims in parts 1 through 7 of this blog series, so in my assessment there are indeed other logical conclusions regarding the Angel of the Lord, and not all of them are reliant on a synchronic reading of the text.

What Daniel refers to as a “necessity of a synchronic or univocal reading of the text” seems a rather broad brush stroke over the first seven books of the Bible. What Daniel would have everyone think is that from a radical critical viewpoint one must shun synchronic analysis in each and every instance of the ‘Angel’. This seems a far reach because first one must accept the Documentary Hypothesis then they must let go of all possible narratives that might be the products of singular writers. It’s all or nothing and nothing in between. In other words, isn’t it possible for a radical critic to see some texts from a synchronic viewpoint?

The critics are busy criticizing that no explanations are in the texts regarding the ‘Angel’, but perhaps this is because the very texts which show the characteristics of the ‘Angel’ are explained away by theories and unsubstantiated speculative hypotheses?

Let us consider again a few scriptures which Daniel sees no relevance in, and makes no comments on. There is a recurring theme of the Lord’s Messenger in which He goes before Israel to guide and protect.

Genesis 24:7, 40 מלאכו (Malacho)(His Angel).

In speaking to his head servant Abraham says that His (the LORD’s) Messenger will go before him in his search for a wife for his son Isaac. Later in verse 40 when the servant is recounting Abraham’s words he uses the same unique title, “His Messenger”. There can be no doubt that the LORD has a specific Messenger which in the Hebrew is, “Malacho”, which is the word for Messenger with the masculine possession of “His”.

Exodus 23:23 מלאכי (Malachi)(Mah-lah-kchee) (My Angel)

When Moses is recounting the LORD’s words of the promised conquest of the land of Canaan he states, “When my angel goes before you…” This is a very specific possession in the Hebrew. The LORD says, “My Angel”. In the Hebrew it is the word for “Messenger” with the possessive ending of “My”. Once again we are struck by the very specific nature of the Messenger. He is the LORD’s Messenger.

Exodus 32:34 מלאכי

In speaking to Moses after the golden calf incident, He again uses the term, “My Messenger”. The verse reads, “…behold, my angel shall go before you…”. The theme continues to play out with the Messenger going before them to provide and protect. Clearly the specific nature of the LORD’s Messenger is hard to explain away in these verses.

Genesis 1:26 The plurality of God’s Image.

Perhaps one of the most talked about scriptures regarding God’s nature in the Bible is “Let Us make man in Our image…”, but consider also the less talked about aspect of this verse. The fact that within the plurality there is an image or nature which can be understood as shared by the “Us” of the verse. Could it be possible that we are so caught up in the fact that man was made in God’s image that we have ignored that the personalities in the “Us” of God also share that same image?

Now there is no outright description of who participates in this “Us” in verse 26, and so some might call it presumptuous to think that the Messenger is one of the “Us”, but there are reasons to consider this. The critics theorize that Exodus 33:20 is alluded to in the Genesis appearances, but what if as stated previously there is something else being communicated? Isn’t it possible that Exodus 33:20 is alluding to the stories in Genesis rather than the other way around?

Consider Genesis 32:22-32. Jacob wrestles a “man” but in verse 30 he names the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” (ESV) This “man” is refered to as God which seems a good reason to understand the “man” as an appearance of God. Furthermore, if we continue to consider the “Us” of Gen. 1:26 it seems likely that this “man” is in God’s image for God said, “Let us make man in our image.” Could it be that Jacob understood this “man” to have God’s Image, for he states, “…I have seen God face to face…”, so this verse could actually be a partial reference to Gen. 1:26.

Genesis 48:15,16

And he blessed Joseph and said,
“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,
the angel who has redeemed me from all evil,
bless the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” (ESV)

On a side note, Jacob’s special blessing over Joseph and his sons is a threefold pattern.

Clearly the Messenger is acknowledged by Jacob in such a way that includes Him as the provider of the blessing which he is requesting. It seems hard to ignore the obvious implications of Jacobs prayer to the Messenger of God, but rather than continue to explain these things I will leave the matter to be meditated on by the reader.

This concludes this eight part series. It has been rewarding and I pray it bless and inspire more questions and further study in these matters. Perhaps more will be lead to prepare answers to all who would question. Peace be with you all, and Keep Ceeking Truth! 🙂

Part 1 Critically Conflated

Part 2 Interpretations of Interpolations

Part 3 Saying and Seeing

Part 4 Presuming Preemption

Part 5 Appearing to have Appeared

Part 6 Diachronic Deadends

Part 7 Additional or Absent?

Part 8 Conclusions of Conjecture


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The Maccabee

‘Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, ‘and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?’

– Jeremiah 23:29

Understanding the Documentary Hypothesis

Historically speaking, the theory that Moses ‘did not write the Pentateuch actually has been around for more than a millennium.’ Even so, the vast majority of believers, both Jew and Christian, ‘still maintained that Moses was its author’ well into the 17th century. It was around this time that the Dutch-Jewish philosopher Benedict Spinoza began to attack this common-held belief about Moses. This led to his eventual excommunication from Judaism by the Rabbinnical authorities some years later. This ‘questioning’ of the authorship of the Bible continued in the following manner:

– French physician Jean Astruc created the original Documentary Hypothesis in 1753 by listing the different names of God used in the Torah.

– After many changes and alterations, Karl Graf came out with…

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