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This is part seven 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.

At this point Daniel has finished his presentation of the various texts and the reasons which he thinks the ‘Angel’ is actually the result of interpolation. He now attempts to support this theory with the following additional points:

  1. “…in Gideon’s narrative, the Septuagint has “angel of Yahweh” throughout.”
  2. The Septuagint also has additional occurrences of “messenger” all by itself in Samson’s birth narrative…”
  3. “…and in Hagar’s story,…” (additional ‘angel’ in Septuagint)
  4. “…and an additional “messenger of the LORD” at Gen 16:8.”
  5. Josephus only presents God interacting with Abraham in Genesis 22.”
  6. The Vulgate makes no mention of an angel in Exod 3:2, mentioning only God appearing.”
  7. “…in none of these instances is any self-identification or messenger formula present.”
  8. “…later versions frequently interpolate the word “angel” where they want to avoid God’s presence, visibility, or participation in something of questionable morality.”

In the Septuagint at Judges 6:14,16 the ‘Angel’ is in the text, but in the early Hebrew codices the word ‘Angel’ is missing. Daniel suggests that this is due to the ‘Angel’ not existing in the earlier texts. There are two other possibilities which he does not address. The ‘Angel’ was dropped from the latter Hebrew codices or the ‘Angel’ was only missing from verses 14 and 16 in the original texts and singularly interpolated in verses 14 and 16 at the time of the translation of the Septuagint or in a later copy of the Septuagint.

What seems painfully obvious is that both the Septuagint and the Hebrew codices agree with each other in Judges chapter 6 at verses 11, 12, 20, 21a, 21b, 22a, and 22b. Both manuscript traditions testify to the title of “Angel of the LORD” with the exception of Judges 6:14, 16.

In this case Daniel is favoring the Hebrew codices over the Septuagint because of the missing ‘Angel’ in verses 14 and 16. As stated in prior blogs, a case can be made for greater adherence to the Greek Septuagint because the LXX Manuscripts predate the Hebrew codices by 600 years. Not only do the earliest LXX manuscripts predate the both the Appello codex and the Leningrad codex by 600 years but the origin of the  LXX is dated between 300 and 200 B.C. which places its reported start date right around prior to the time of the dating of the Dead Sea Scroll Manuscripts, which are the oldest Hebrew manuscripts to date.

Furthermore, the Septuagint has been shown to agree in more places with the Dead Sea Scrolls than the Masoretic texts. On the flip side, the Masoretic texts were most likely based on older versions of the Hebrew text dating after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. To make matters more muddy  it can be shown that the Masoretic text favors “non-Christian” renderings of key verses which were heavily quoted by Christians of the first and second centuries A.D. Especially those verses which were quoted in the “Christian” New Testament. It is clear from the New Testament that the Septuagint was the standard which the majority of the Jewish world in the first century looked to.

What Daniel is implying is that the two instances of the ‘Angel’ in Judges 6:14,16 in the Septuagint somehow prove that the Angel was interpolated not just in verses 14 and 16 but throughout the whole of the story of Gideon. Does Daniel supply evidence that the Masoretic texts are more accurate than the Septuagint? Does Daniel address the fact that both the LXX and the Hebrew texts contain the ‘Angel’ in verses 11, 12, 20, 21a, 21b, 22a, and 22b? The answer to both questions is a negative.

Regarding the supposed interpolated ‘Angel’ in the story of Gideon, it can be seen as not affecting the message of the overall text. Whether the ‘Angel’ was missing does not preclude an interpretation that the LORD was speaking in verses 14 and 16 through the Messenger. This is based on the context of verses 11, 12, 20, 21a, 21b, 22a, and 22b in which the ‘Angel’ is the interlocutor.

According to Daniel, the Messenger cannot speak in the first person as YHVH, but is only allowed to speak as an individual. This assumption is based on the ‘Angel’ being simply ‘an angel’ and not ‘The Angel’, but this even assumes that ‘an angel’ would not speak as the LORD on His behalf in the first person, which is not necessarily so.

I need to state again in this blog series that the Messenger can be interpreted by the text even when what Daniel refers to as the “formula” is not present within the texts. The specific Hebrew  title, “Malach Adonai” (Messenger of YHVH), holds a prominent place in Jewish ideas about how YHVH communicates with mankind. This is primarily derived from Exodus chapter 33 but is alluded to in the Genesis accounts as well.

From a conservative approach both Genesis and Exodus were written many years prior to the book of Judges so the concepts of God in the book of Judges would logically refer to the earlier books. This is where the Documentarian gets tripped up. They don’t anchor any of the first five books of the Bible to one time period, as well as other Scriptures, and as a result they struggle to reconcile their Deuteronomic theories with the actual texts of the Bible. This is in the end why Daniel is making such a big deal about why he thinks the ‘Malach’ is an interpolation.

The whole Documentarian approach to the Hebraic concept of God assumes that the idea of a Messenger of the LORD did not exist circa 2000 BC. The Documentarian  sees this concept of God, in which no one could look upon the LORD without dying, reaching it’s “final draft” in the time period of King Josiah. Once the Documentarian is convinced of this idea they build the entirety of scriptural development upon it. The problem of course is that it remains a flailing theory which continues to lack wholistic and substantial support.

In regard to interpolation there are a couple of ways to understand what is meant by the term. The first way to understand it is by a sequence of events in various translations which lead to a word or phrase being incorporated into the text which was not original to the text. This can happen when editors are explaining the text as they translate it into another language. It also can be the result of mixing an official version with a contemporary version of the text which in time is assumed to be the official version. This is a very generic explanation of what interpolation is, but it is necessary to understand how these things occur.

The second way to understand interpolation is to think of the process as a conscious and active manipulation of the text. This is not really what true interpolation is as it is more about what occurs as a result of human error or translation variances. Daniel, however seems to reiterate that the reason for the supposed ‘Angel’ interpolations is so that the Post-Deuteronomists can make the text line up with their idea about God. In other words they hypothetically changed the text intentionality. Well, it seems this is Daniel’s  claim, but he does not state this directly.

Whether one views the ‘Angel’ as interpolated in Judges 6:14,16 or original to the text there still exists the a same understanding with or without the ‘Angel’ in verses 14 and 16. This is due to the fact of the context of verses 11, 12, 20, 21a, 21b, 22a, and 22b in which the ‘Angel’ is referenced in both the Septuagint and the early Hebrew codices. On the one hand if verses 14 and 16 were interpolations, although I believe they were probably not, but if they were, they could be seen as explaining that YHVH was speaking or acting through the ‘Angel’.

It is only when one assumes that the Documentary Hypothesis is true that the Hebrew concept of God is dated to King Josiah’s time period. The Documentarian then dates certain texts based on additional assumptions of diachronic textual origins, and they then begin to justify eliminating words from the text because they “don’t make sense” in their framework.

Clearly both the Septuagint and the early Hebrew codices of Judges chapter 6 of verses 11, 12, 20, 21a, 21b, 22a, and 22b all contain the ‘Angel’, so doesn’t that seem proof enough that the ‘Angel’ existed in these verses in the original story? Apparently not because Daniel is insisting in the face of original manuscript evidence that “another” version existed which he trusts more. The only problem is that this version only exists in the minds of Documentations.

Before conservatives are going to throw in the towel to radical critics on Judges 6:14,16 they need to more adequately explain away verses 11, 12, 20, 21a, 21b, 22a, and 22b because as it stands verses 14 and 16 could be seen as interpolations based on those verses, and not on the radical critical Interpolation Theory.

Moving on to the next claim which Daniel points out. He states that the Septuagint has an additional ‘Angel’ in the Samson birth announcement. Since Daniel didn’t identity chapter and verse I was left to examine the texts and determine that his reference was likely to Judges 13:19:

The English Translation of the Greek Septuagint (Compiled from the Translation by Sir Lancelot C. L. Brenton 1851)

And Manoe took a kid of the goats and its meat-offering, and offered it on the rock to the Lord; and the angel wrought a distinct work, and Manoe and his wife were looking on.

This is perhaps a great exaggeration by Daniel because when one actually looks at the Greek text of the Septuagint it is clear that the Greek word for ‘angel’, ἄγγελος (ággelos) is not in verse 19, hence the italicized ‘angel’ in the English translation of the Septuagint!  It was pointed out in his previous comments that the passage is another difficult one to interpret. He stated:

V. 19 also provides an interesting problem. It states that, on the angel’s orders, Manoah offered a meat offering on a rock “to Yahweh. And [?] did wonders/wondrously.” There is no subject attached to the participle מפלא, “to be wonderful.” Many translations assume the angel is understood, since he is overseeing the sacrifice (thus, “the angel did wondrously”), while others believe the statement refers to Yahweh, and want it to act as a relative clause (thus, “to Yahweh, to him who works wonders”)…”

Daniel is addressing the Hebrew in his comment above, but later when he turns his attention to the Greek LXX he states that the ‘Angel’ is added to the Septuagint in the Samson birth narrative, but clearly he must be referring to the English translation of the Septuagint and not to the Greek. I am just a novice in the Greek but even I can see that the word ἄγγελος (ággelos) is not in Judges 13:19. If this is the case then where is the interpolated ‘angel’ in verse 19 besides in the interpretation to English?

I am no translation expert but it seems fairly clear that the Greek sentence references the pronoun ‘he’ and is translated as ‘angel’ based on the context of the previous verses. The problem of course is that if verse 19 is what Daniel is claiming as an interpolation then it fails the test simply based on the Greek text. It is pretty straight forward. No ἄγγελος (ággelos), no ‘angel’, therefore, no interpolation in the Greek!

Next Daniel points out that there is an additional ‘Angel’ in the story of Hagar in the Septuagint. He again does not cite chapter and verse, so I assume he is referring to Genesis 16:8:

English Translation of the Septuagint

And the angel of the Lord said to her, Agar, Sara’s maid, whence comest thou, and wither goest thou? and she said, I am fleeing from the face of my mistress Sara.

This is perhaps a more likely interpolation but even so, it is still not verifiable because what if it was original to the story, and it was the Hebrew codices which left the ‘angel’ out of verse 8? After all both the Septuagint and the Hebrew codices agree in Judges 16:7,9,10, and 11 with the ‘Angel’ as the intermediary. Even if a conservative would agree to verse 8 as an interpolation it still does not explain away the context of verses 7, 9, 10 and 11 which would be a more likely reason for a possible interpolation of verse 8!

One more thing to state in regard to Daniel’s claim that the ‘Angel’ was interpolated in Judges 16:8, he breaks with his “rule” regarding the “formula”.  This is that the theoretical Post-Deuteronomic editors took the opportunity to insert the word “Malach” in front of the Name of God, but this pattern is missing from verse 8 as the Hebrew simply reads, “And he said,…”. There is no reference to the LORD in verse 8! It is simply a reference to “he” which is in reference to verse 7 which both the Hebrew and the Septuagint agree is the Angel of the LORD! In my opinion there is a greater case for interpolation of the ‘Angel’ based on the context of the ‘Angel’ in verse 7 and not on the absence of it in verse 8. Even so, it still is possible that the Hebrew texts dropped the ‘Angel’ rather than the Septuagint adding it.

Daniel’s next comment is a possible faux pas as he seems to indicate another additional ‘angel’, but he is likely referencing the previous comment with regard to the story of Hagar.

Daniel  states:

“The Septuagint also has additional occurrences of “messenger” all by itself in Samson’s birth narrative and in Hagar’s story, and an additional “messenger of the Lord” at Gen 16:8.”

It sounds like an additional “messenger” in Gen.16:8 except that this is likely the one in the story of Hagar of which chapter 16 contains. It looks like Daniel in his eagerness to show all these “additional” ‘messengers’ cites Gen.16:8 as another occurrence, but does not recognize that this was the one within the story of Hagar which he already referenced!

Next Daniel states:

“Josephus only presents God interacting with Abraham in Genesis 22.”

This is an interesting comment by Daniel because it appears to be an attempt to state that whatever manuscripts Josephus had at his disposal theoretically did not mention the ‘angel’ in Genesis 22. It would be a quite convincing argument except for the fact that Josephus does not consider his account of the Scriptures as an authorized version, but merely a reckoning of his origins and the histories of his people. As Josephus states in the beginning of his writings:

The Life of Flavius Josephus

Life. 1

(1) The family from which I am derived is not an ignoble one, but hath descended all along from the priests; and as nobility among several people is of a different origin, so with us to be of the sacerdotal dignity, is an indication of the splendor of a family.

Josephus does not set out to translate the Bible but clearly indicates his primary aim is in writing a history of his people in order that others would know his nobility.

The fact that Josephus does not mention the ‘angel’ when he recounts Gen. 22 most likely is due to his paraphrased approach which not only leaves out many Scriptural details but also adds a great deal more of extra non-Biblical  information either from tradition or elsewhere. Below is his account of Gen. 22:

Antiquities. 1. 13. 4

(233) And the deed had been done if God had not opposed it; for he called loudly to Abraham by his name, and forbade him to slay his son; and said, “It was not out of a desire of human blood that he was commanded to slay his son, nor was he willing that he should be taken away from him whom he had made his father, but to try the temper of his mind, whether he would be obedient to such a command. (234) Since, therefore, he now was satisfied as to that his alacrity, and the surprising readiness he showed in this his piety, he was delighted in having bestowed such blessings upon him; and that he would not be wanting in all sort of concern about him, and in bestowing other children upon him; and that his son should live to a very great age; that he should live a happy life, and bequeath a large principality to his children, who should be good and legitimate. “(235) He foretold also, that his family should increase into many nations; and that those patriarchs should leave behind them an everlasting name; that they should obtain the possession of the land of Canaan, and be envied by all men. When God had said this, he produced to them a ram, which did not appear before, for the sacrifice. (236) So Abraham and Isaac receiving each other unexpectedly, and having obtained the promises of such great blessings, embraced one another; and when they had sacrificed, they returned to Sarah, and lived happily together, God affording them his assistance in all things they desired.

It should be clear that Josephus is by no means interested in a direct word for word account of Gen. 22 but is more interested in retelling the story in a similar fashion to the Greek histories of his day.

Furthermore, while Josephus does not mention the ‘angel’ in his account of Gen. 22 he does include an ‘angel’ in the following passages:

Antiquities. 1. 10. 4: Gen.16 Story of Hagar

Antiquities. 1. 12. 3: Gen. 21 Hagar and Ishmael

Antiquities. 1. 20. 2: Gen. 32 Jacob wrestles an ‘angel’

Antiquities. 5. 8. 2 Judges 13 Story of Manoah

Are we to treat the passages in which Josephus does mention the angel as interpolations as well or perhaps Josephus is correctly citing the Bible of his day? What does Daniel state in regard to Josephus’ agreement with the Septuagint  and the Hebrew codices? Nothing.

In addition to Josephus’ agreement with the texts he includes one reference to Gen. 32 which does not contain an ‘angel’ in either the Septuagint or the Hebrew manuscripts. Either this indicates that the ‘angel’ was dropped from the texts which the Septuagint and the Hebrew codices were based on or perhaps the story is clearly understood to refer to an ‘angel’ despite the lack of the word “Malach”. In my opinion the “man” of Gen. 32 is clearly understood as an ‘angel’ or the ‘Angel’ despite the absence of the word “Malach”. Daniel himself identifies Gen.32 as an ‘angel’ passage despite his buildup of the Interpolation Theory and the fact that the word ‘angel’ does not appear in Gen. 32; hence, no interpolation of “Malach”.

Additionally Josephus equates speaking with the ‘Angel’ the same as interacting with God. Consider Josephus account of the Samson birth narrative:

Antiquities. 5. 8. 2

(284) which when they had done, he touched the flesh with the rod which he had in his hand, which, upon the breaking out of a flame, was consumed, together with the loaves; and the angel ascended openly in their sight up to heaven, by means of the smoke as by a vehicle. Now Manoah was afraid that some danger would come to them from this sight of God; but his wife bade him be of good courage, for that God appeared to them for their benefit.

This seems pretty straight forward. To see the Divine ‘Angel’ is to see God. Since Daniel seems eager to give Josephus preeminence on Gen. 22 shall we also listen to what Josephus states about the Samson narrative?

Next Daniel states:

The Vulgate makes no mention of an angel in Exod 3:2, mentioning only God appearing.”

Daniel is implying the same for St. Jerome as he did for Josephus in that Jerome in his translation of the Vulgate must have had access to manuscripts which have been lost to the winds of time. It’s possible, but even so, we are left questioning if Jerome’s theoretical manuscript was itself corrupted by the missing ‘Angel’. After all, even the Masoretic text which has been shown to favor “non-Christian” renderings includes the ‘Angel’ at Exod. 3:2.

As long as all cards are on the table shouldn’t we also consider that St. Jerome might have just accidentally left the ‘Angel’ out in the process of translating the Hebrew? As unbelievable as it might seem that a renowned translator such as Jerome could make such a blunder if we are honest with our logic then we must consider this possibility as well.

The point is that we are not bound to only one reason for the missing ‘Angel’ in Exodus 3:2 in the Latin Vulgate, but can consider the following other possibilities:

  1. Jerome translates from a corrupted Hebrew manuscript.
  2. Jerome accidentally leaves the ‘Angel’ out of the translation.

Consider also that the Vulgate contains the ‘Angel’ in many other passages as well as those which Daniel brings to question:

Gen. 16:7, 9 – Story of Hagar (angelus)

Gen. 21:17 – Hagar and Ishmael (angelus)

Gen. 22:11, 15 – Abraham offers Isaac (angelus)

Judges 6:11, 20 – The call of Gideon (angelus)

Judges 13 – Samson’s birth announcement (angelus)

Shall we dismiss the Latin Vulgate witness to every instance of the ‘Angel’ simply because the word is missing in Exodus 3:2?

Lastly, on this point, while the Vulgate is missing the ‘Angel’ at Exodus 3:2, it includes the ‘Angel’ within the same book in these areas:

Exodus 14:19 – The ‘Angel’ in the pillar of cloud

Exodus 23:23 – The ‘Angel’ goes before Israel

Exodus 32:34 – The ‘Angel’ will go before them

Instead of questioning the originality of the ‘Angel’ due to some missing instances of the ‘Angel’ in both the Latin Vulgate and Josephus, we should consider all of the other ‘Angel’ passages which are in both texts as further testimony to the existence of the ‘Angel’ in the original stories.

Daniel then states:

“…in none of these instances is any self-identification or messenger formula present. Some have claimed that the messenger was so fully identified with his patron that it was not necessary, but there is simply no evidence for this notion. The closest we get is the anomalous “says Yahweh” in Gen 22:16.”

Which are the instances that Daniel is referring to? He is saying that the additional ‘Angel’ in the Samson and Hagar Narratives as well as the missing ‘Angel’ in Josephus’ account and Exodus 3:2 of the Latin Vulgate are these instances. His line of reasoning is that none of these instances have either self-identification or a “messenger formula”, but what does this mean and does it matter in the way he thinks it does?

Daniel is tied up in the idea of self-identification within the texts. In other words at no point does the ‘Angel’ ever say directly, “I am the Angel of the LORD.”, but is identified by the writer in phrases such as, “Then the Angel of the LORD said…”. This seems a rather interesting approach to denying the existence of the ‘Angel’ in the “original” narratives because it assumes that no name in Scripture can be verified unless the actor states, “I am (insert name)”.

If we were to take this “self-identification” rule to its extreme then we would question all the players for how many are recorded as identifying themselves? Does Hagar in Gen. 16, Abram and Isaac in Gen. 22, Gideon in Judges 6, or Manoah in Judges 13 ever state who they are? No, they as most of the individuals of the Bible are identified by the writer. What the radical critics think is an important consideration doesn’t seem to hold much weight upon closer examination.

In some cases the writer identifies the ‘Angel’ and in other cases the ‘Angel’ is identified by the witness such as with Gideon in Judges 6:22. Daniel isn’t interested in third-party identification and so his answer to “fix” this issue is to explain these as interpolations. The problem with this approach is that even if such self-identification phrases did exist in the texts the radical critics would likely explain those away as “interpolations” as well.

Daniel insists that there are no “messenger formulas” in those instances but I seem to recall that he made a big deal about the narratives primarily because they did have the so-called “messenger formulas”, so what is he trying to state now? I think it is safe to say that Daniel’s point is tied up in the conflation idea in regard to the ‘Angel’ and the LORD.

Daniel is consumed with the notion that there is no evidence to support the Messenger being identified with His Patron, but the truth of the matter is that the majority of the evidence is in the very passages which Daniel has set out to discredit! He states there is no evidence because in his mind everything is explained away by theoretical interpolations by hypothetical Post-Deuteronomic editors which were concocted by the unsubstantiated Documentary Hypothesis.

As far as further evidence, there are a few other passages which Daniel does not consider. Why? Because Daniel was primarily only interested in the 36 occurrences of “יהוה מלאך”  and 6 occurrences  of אלהים” מלאך” from Genesis to Judges. All other narratives with the word “Malach” are ignored by Daniel as perhaps in his view they have no bearing.

Consider Genesis 24:7,40

v7. The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there. (ESV)

v40. But he said to me, ‘The Lord, before whom I have walked, will send his angel with you and prosper your way. You shall take a wife for my son from my clan and from my father’s house. (ESV)

In verse 7 Abraham is speaking to his head servant regarding a wife for his son Isaac. Abraham says, “…he will send his angel…”. This is a very specific way of describing the ‘angel’. It is not “an angel” or “the angel”, but “His Angel”. This is not just a messenger, but this is the LORD’s Messenger. In the Hebrew the word is “מלאכו” (Malacho)(His Angel). If that doesn’t read like a reference to The Messenger of The LORD then I don’t know what does! Daniel isn’t concerned too much about this reference because he never even mentions it.

When Jacob blesses Joseph’s sons he speaks of the ‘Angel’ who redeemed him and asks the ‘Angel’ to bless the boys. Consider Genesis 48:15,16:

v15. 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,

v16. 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)

This ‘Angel’ whom Jacob prays to and asks for blessings is, it would seem, being identified with His Patron. Again Daniel doesn’t waste his time on Gen.48:15,16 because it does not contain the “messenger formula”. Daniel is so caught up in the supposed formulas it seems that he has missed a key passage which lends evidence to the Hebraic ideas concerning the role which the Messenger plays, and how the ‘Angel’ is prayed to, just as the LORD is prayed to.

Next Daniel states:

“…later versions frequently interpolate the word “angel” where they want to avoid God’s presence, visibility, or participation in something of questionable morality. For instance, in Exod 4:24 both the Septuagint and the targums interpolate the angel to avoid the notion that Yahweh would have come down to kill Moses. In Num 22:20 and 23:4 the Samaritan Pentateuch changes “and God met Balaam” to “and the angel of God met Balaam.” He does not change Num 22:9 or another phrase in Num 23:4, however. In the Palestinian Targum God tells Moses that his angels will pass by him, not that he himself will pass by, as in Exodus 33. Numerous other examples could be brought up, but this should do.”

His reference to “later” versions of the Bible is interesting as he begins to reference the Septuagint and the Targums?  Did I miss something? Is he calling the Septuagint and the Targums “later” versions? The age of the Septuagint is more certain than any Bible version as Greek fragments of it have been found and dated to the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C.  which coincides with the tradition that it was translated from the Hebrew into the Greek in the 3rd century B.C. Complete manuscripts of the Septuagint are dated to the 4th and 5th centuries A.D. That is still 500 to 600 years earlier than the Complete Masoretic Text.  The two main Targum manuscripts in question can be dated around the 5th century A.D. Recent scholarship has pushed the dating of the Targums even earlier based on Aramaic dialect, source relationships, and rabbinic citations. Rather than settle on that earlier date for the Targums I will leave that matter out of this and be satisfied with the manuscript dating of the 5th century A.D. as I believe that for this purpose it is still an early enough date to exclude the term “late version.”

With Exodus 4:24, again Daniel is comparing the Septuagint to the Masoretic Text, and he is favoring the Masoretic Text.  As I have pointed out previously if one were to favor the Septuagint over the Masoretic then they might be persuaded to think that rather than the Septuagint interpolating an ‘angel’ that the Masoretic Text is missing it. After all, both the manuscript dates of the Septuagint and the Targums are predating the Masoretic Text by at least 500 years.

On another note regarding the Targums, they were never considered official translations of the texts but understood to be paraphrases which shed meaning on the Hebrew texts. In this light it is entirely possible that the Targums explain that God could never have appeared to anyone in person and so the ‘angel’ is understood to act as the agent of the LORD; hence the ‘angel’ is used in Exodus 4:24. Most likely it has nothing to do with Daniel’s claim that, “…the targums interpolate the angel to avoid the notion that Yahweh would have come down to kill Moses,” and more to do with the Hebraic understanding of how the LORD interacts with humanity. Ironically, if the LORD did appear to Moses, he would have died from His Glory, therefore it was the LORD appearing to him in a less glorious form whether one wishes to call Him an angel or not.

Regarding the Samaritan Pentateuch, it has less footing to stand on as the earliest complete manuscript is dating to the Middle ages, but there is what is termed Pre-Samaritan texts which constitute about 5% of the Dead Sea Scrolls. I would be more likely to agree with Daniel on the Samaritan Pentateuch being a later Bible version, but possibly not in the same way he implies. He states:

In Num 22:20 and 23:4 the Samaritan Pentateuch changes “and God met Balaam” to “and the angel of God met Balaam.” He does not change Num 22:9 or another phrase in Num 23:4, however.”

Well I don’t see the issue as both the Septuagint and the Masoretic Text agree by leaving out the ‘angel’ in Numbers 22:20 and 23:4, but again, are we to understand the passage as referring to God coming down in person to Balaam? Especially in light of Exodus 33:20? Daniel does not agree as I suspect his view is that the concept of ‘dying from seeing God’ in 33:20 does not pre-date the hypothetical Deuteronomic period. Daniel refers to “He” which I presume is communicating that a translator did not differ the story of Balaam in Num. 22:9 or 23:4, but from what, I could only guess?

Lastly he states:

“In the Palestinian Targum God tells Moses that his angels will pass by him, not that he himself will pass by, as in Exodus 33. Numerous other examples could be brought up, but this should do.”

Aside from the fact that the Palestinian Targum states that God’s angels will pass by Moses, again it is clear that the Septuagint and the Masoretic text do not contain the ‘angel’. Seeing as how these texts are in agreement and the Septuagint is on better footing than either the Masoretic or the Palestinian Targum, it seems rather trite to state that the Palestinian Targum somehow proves interpolation.

This brings up my next point on what Daniel is defining as “Post-Deuteronomic Interpolation”. I assumed from the start of his article that he was possibly considering a hypothetical Post-Deuteronomic period as somewhere around the 6th century B.C. but based on his comments regarding “later versions interpolating the angel” it appears that his idea of “Post-Deuteronomic” somehow extends all the way past the Christian era? Well, he might disagree, but this would likely be based on speculative viewpoints regarding when these “later versions” originated.

This concludes part seven of this eight part series. In part eight I will be commenting on Daniel’s concluding remarks.

As always, Keep Ceeking Truth! Peace be with you all and I look forward to my next post! 🙂

Part 1 Critically Conflated
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/critically-conflated/

Part 2 Interpretations of Interpolations
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/interpretations-of-interpolations/

Part 3 Saying and Seeing
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/saying-and-seeing/

Part 4 Presuming Preemption
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/22/presuming-preemption/

Part 5 Appearing to have Appeared
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/30/appearing-to-have-appeared/

Part 6 Diachronic Deadends
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/12/21/diachronic-deadends/

Part 7 Additional or Absent?
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/additional-or-absent/

Part 8 Conclusions of Conjecture
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/conclusions-of-conjecture/

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This is part five 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.

In this post I will be responding to Daniel’s comments on Gideon’s Call (Judges 6:11-24). As in Daniel’s previous observations he continues to categorize both the Names of God and the ‘Angel of the Lord’ as remnants of earlier or later hypothetical editors. There is really no other way in which a Documentarian can interpret scripture because they are bound to their views on source theory. This continues to be their issue as they simply will not even entertain the possibility that the texts are the result of singular cohesive units.

Daniel starts by stating, “…the angel comes to Gideon, who appears not to recognize him…“. Actually according to the chapter content it is very clear that Gideon surely does not recognize the ‘Angel’, but Daniel seems to be suggesting that Gideon possibly did recognize Him. Verse 22 of Judges chapter 6 reads:

“Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the Lord.” ESV

All throughout the section up to verse 22 it seems clear that Gideon first believes he is speaking with a man but slowly begins to suspect a Divine Presence. At verse 17 Gideon exclaims:

“If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me.” ESV

At this point Gideon wants to be sure that this ‘Man’ is who He has presented Himself to be. The point being is that verses 17 and 22 seem to adequately address that Gideon certainly did not recognize the ‘Angel’ up to verse 16. I don’t know if this was an oversight on Daniel’s part or if he is considering certain verses as possible additions by later theoretical editors, but he does not specify, and he seems to ignore the clear context of the section.

Most likely Daniel is suggesting that Gideon did recognize the ‘Man’, not as the ‘Angel’, but as the Lord. Daniel is reconstructing the section by omitting each reference to an angel but this does not account for Gideon not recognizing the ‘Man’ as ‘Yahweh’. Even if as Daniel theorizes that there was no ‘Angel’ in the original, Gideon still does not recognize the ‘man’ unless verse 17 which has no mention of ‘angel’ is also considered a later addition. What reason does Daniel give to explain verse 17? He leaves it as it is because there is no mention of an angel. The point being is that first Daniel states Gideon, “appears not to recognize him“, but later he states, “In v. 17, Gideon actually asks for proof that he is speaking specifically to Yahweh.” Daniel is stating in so many words that Gideon did not recognize ‘Yahweh’ because he asks for proof.

It would appear that Daniel’s reference to Gideon appearing not to recognize the ‘angel’ also appears to be a reference to something which Daniel appears to acknowledge after he has appeared to explain it away. Perhaps Daniel actually does understand that Gideon begins by not recognizing the ‘Man’, but uses the wrong wording to explain his position? Whether this was an ‘Angel’ or ‘Yahweh’, Gideon clearly did not recognize this person from their first meeting based on verse 17.

Next Daniel turns his attention to the interchangeably of the titles of  ‘Angel of the Lord’, and ‘Lord’. He states:

In vv. 11, 12, 21, and 22 the text has “angel of Yahweh,” but in vv. 14 and 16 Gideon is represented as speaking directly to Yahweh.

Once again we are being told in so many words that verses 14 and 16 were original to the text while all references to the ‘angel’ are likely interpolations because the text makes no sense according to the critics. It is difficult to figure which claim supports the other. Does the interpretation that the texts do not make sense lead one to consider that the ‘angel’ is interpolated or does the Interpolation Theory lead one to narrowly interpret the texts as nonsensical? Perhaps these twin claims uphold each other because without one the other cannot stand?

Daniel is held captive by the idea that Gideon is speaking directly with ‘Yahweh’ in verses 14 and 16. This is simply because he has prejudged the texts and interpreted them based on his stationary viewpoint. In his mind the reason for everyone’s incorrect interpretations are due to the imaginary ‘angel’. He has dismissed the possibility that the ‘Angel’ (Messenger) is speaking on behalf of ‘Yahweh’ and bringing a message in the first person. Instead of stating, “Thus saith the Lord”, the messenger is the mouthpiece of ‘Yahweh’ whereby whatever the ‘Angel’ speaks is the Will of ‘Yahweh’. It can certainly be the case that Gideon was speaking directly to ‘Yahweh’, that is, through the ‘Angel’.

The point of Daniel’s article was to explain away the most prevalent view of the ‘Angel’. He started his presentation by stating,  “The most prevalent view is that the angel, as a divine messenger, represents his patron so completely that he may be referred to and even described as the patron”, which Daniel quickly dismisses as most likely due to conflation or confusion. However,  couldn’t it be possible that the perceived conflation or confusion is only the result of a narrow interpretation based on the Interpolation Theory itself?

There remains a third view which Daniel ignores due to his assumption of the Interpolation Theory. This is not that the ‘angel’ is described as his Patron but that the ‘angel’ is the Lord’s Messenger and acts as His Mediator. As His vessel the ‘angel’ acts as the Lord wills and speaks as the Lord’s mouthpiece. Likewise, when speaking, the ‘angel’ is referred to as the Lord based on the ‘angel’s’ mediating nature.

It is unfortunate that the ‘angel’ passages are dismissed as interpolations because once again this points out, if true, how flipshod a job that a theoretical Post-Deuteronomic editor performed in trying to align the text to their hypothetical theology.  If all they had to do was insert the word ‘Malach’ before every instance of “Lord” how hard could that have been? Also, in regard to the four letter Name of God, it seems highly unlikely that any hypothetical editor would simply miss verses 14 and 16 which contain the Lord’s Name, but the Documentary critic insists that these are mistakes which were not covered up completely.

Next Daniel states, “In v.  17, Gideon actually asks for proof that he is speaking specifically to Yahweh.” Now this of course is based on Daniel’s interpretation which springs forth from the theoretical ‘angel’ interpolation. Without this theory it can be interpreted within the larger context. Instead verse 17 can be interpreted as Gideon asking for proof that ‘Yahweh’ is speaking to him through the angel. That is not too hard of an explanation at all and one reason Daniel excludes this possibility is due to the Interpolation Theory,  and so we can clearly see how this theory affects one’s ability to consider other possibilities of the texts.

Next Daniel addresses verse 20 which uses the title ‘Malach Elohim’ which translates ‘Angel of God’. He states,

In v. 20 it is “angel of God.” This is peculiar, and the only other uses of “angel of God” in Gen-Judg also appear in places where the identity of God is mixed up with that of an angel (Gen 21:17; 31:11; Exod 14:19; Judg 13:6, 9).

His claim will need to be addressed for each of these four examples.

Gen 21:17:

“And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not; for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.” RSV

Daniel is stating that the identify of God is being mixed up with the ‘Angel of God’ but I have read Gen 21:17 in a few Bible versions and do not see how this is the exclusive interpretation.  It seems just as easily understood as the ‘Angel’ speaking on behalf of God. It seems odd that Daniel points out in the start of his article that the Hebrew for ‘Angel’, ‘Malach’, is more accurately translated,  “Messenger”, and yet Daniel is resisting the idea that the Messenger speaks the Message of God.

Gen 31:11 (12,13)

“11 Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am!’ 12 And he said, ‘Lift up your eyes and see, all the goats that leap upon the flock are striped, spotted, and mottled; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go forth from this land, and return to the land of your birth.’” RSV

Again the simple understanding of the Messenger of God is that He speaks God’s message. This is a very likely interpretation but it is excluded.  It should also be noted that the ‘Angel’ speaks to Jacob in a dream so another question would be what reason would a Post-Deuteronomist have in adding ‘Malach’ in front of ‘Elohim’? If this was a dream then ‘seeing’ God would not have been an issue, would it?

At this point it should be considered that the Lord never communicates without His Messenger and that the Hebrews understood this basic nature about the Lord. Even when the ‘Angel’ is not specifically mentioned in the text it could be understood that God always speaks His Message through His Messenger. Also in other passages the interlocutor is described as ‘The Word of the Lord’, such as, “Then the Word of the Lord came to…”.

The only way to arrive at the critical viewpoint is to first assume that the early Hebrews spoke directly with ‘Yahweh’ and stood ‘face to face’ with God. Then one begins to interpret the texts in light of this assumption.  As far as the ‘Angel’ passages are concerned,  they lend more evidence towards the Hebrews not ‘seeing’ God. The only way to think otherwise would be to dismiss all references to the ‘Angel’, and this is where the critic finds the Interpolation Theory fits with their assumptions. Still missing, however, is whether one can determine if their assumptions are supporting the theory or if the theory is supporting their assumptions?

Ex 14:19 (& v.24)

19 “The angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them.”…

“24 At the morning watch, the Lord looked down on the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud and brought the army of the Egyptians into confusion.” NASB

This passage is different in that the Lord is not speaking through the ‘Angel’ but acting and moving in the pillar of fire and cloud. Also distinguishing this passage from others is the interchangeably of the titles, “Malach Elohim” and “Adonai” (‘Yahweh’). Now the critic must make a decision on how they think this section arose because they would never consider it a singular unit in its “original” form. Here are some questions for the critics to consider:

What reason would a Post-Deuteronomist have to insert “Malach” in front of Elohim if they were more inclined to ‘Yahwism’? Why not also simply change “Elohim” to ‘Yahweh’ along with the addition of ‘Malach’?

Why would not the Post-Deuteronomist simply insert a ‘Malach’ in front of “Lord” in Exodus 14:24? How could they simply miss the Name of the Lord thereby creating the assumed identity confusion?

These two questions would also apply to Judges 6:20, 21 with the difference that ‘Malach Elohim’ and ‘Malach Adonai’ are used interchangeably. A third question arises in Judges 6:20, 21 which is:

Why are not ‘Malach Elohim’ and ‘Malach Adonai’ considered by the critics to be two different angles due to the titles?

Daniel doesn’t discuss this but he accepts the ‘Angel of Elohim’ as another name for ‘Angel of Adonai’. It is an easy thing to gloss over but should be addressed.  The point is that Daniel refuses to interpret all these passages as the Lord speaking through the ‘Angel’ but then loosens his strict adherence to the word for word interpretations when it comes to comparing ‘Angel of Elohim’ and ‘Angel of Adonai’. They are considered both the same ‘Angel’, and they should be considered this way, but this is mostly a conservative view which Daniel accepts without considering its implications. By acknowledging that these two ‘Angels’ are the same he has demonstrated how the Names of God are interchangeable. In the end I am sure that he not interested in this as in his mind both ‘Angels’ are a made up mechanism used by the theoretical Post-Deuteronomist.

Judges 13:6, 9

6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, “A man of God came to me and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. And I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name.

9 God listened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again to the woman as she was sitting in the field, but Manoah her husband was not with her. NASB

In Judges 13:6, 9 the same conditions apply as the three previous examples. What Daniel reads as a mixture of identities can just as easily be read as two identities with the ‘Angel’ acting as the intermediary. There are no clear indications of personalities being mixed except for those who would read this into the text. Yes, God listened to the voice of Manoah, and the ‘Angel’ goes to his wife again but none of the texts ever spell out the nature of the ‘Angel’ as indistinguishable from the Lord.

As a tangent, my own belief is that the ‘Angel’ is the Pre-Existent Word, and that the ‘Word of the Lord’ is His own person despite His oneness with the Lord. They are two persons yet one with each other. In no way does this belief require the texts regarding the ‘Angel’ to be interpreted as a mixture of personalities. On the contrary the texts make more sense when we interpret the personality of the ‘Angel’ as separated from God as His Messenger.

Daniel states that the title, ‘Malach Elohim’ only appears in those texts which mix up the identity of God with that of the ‘Angel’. This conclusion always excludes the interpretation in which the ‘Angel’ is the Lord’s vessel of communication or mediator of salvation. The critics seem more satisfied with viewpoints which do not make sense, but this is due to their own refusal to allow alternative interpretations of the texts within context.

Daniel states, “As with other stories, Gideon’s angel speaks as God in the first person with no messenger formula to indicate it is a mediated message.” The messenger formula which Daniel is referring to are the titles, ‘Malach Adonai’ or ‘Malach Elohim’. Daniel seems unwilling to entertain the idea of a Messenger which speaks in the first person on behalf of God. Is not this a plausible understanding of the texts? Isn’t it possible that the ‘Angel’ is the Lord’s vessel while retaining His own distinct personality? Perhaps this is why the ‘Angel’ is given the special title of ‘Malach Adonai’? Maybe it is through Him the Lord communicates all His messages? If we allow the context to influence the surrounding verses which do not contain the “formula” then we could deduce that not only does the Messenger of ‘Yahweh’ speak in the first person but also acts as a representation of the Lord to mankind by mediating His Glorious Presence.

Next Daniel comments on Judges 6:22:

Again we have the allusion to Exod 33:20, but here Gideon laments, “Help me, O Yahweh God, for I have seen the angel of Yahweh face to face!” Exod 33:20 does not place a restriction on seeing the angel of Yahweh, however, it explicitly states that no human can see God himself (and specifically his face, given the context).

Why is Daniel so intrigued by Gideon’s response? Apparently Gideon was wrong to be afraid of seeing the ‘Malach Adonai’ face to face because clearly Exodus 33:20 does not state that seeing the ‘Angel’ would be fatal. Despite what Exodus 33:20 states, Gideon’s response seems normal for anyone who has encountered a Being Who projects a degree of the Divine Glory and speaks as the Lord’s mouthpiece.

For the critic, Gideon is encountering the Lord in bodily form yet not as the ‘Angel’ but as Himself, and this is the reason they believe Gideon is struck with fear because he thinks he has seen God. This is problematic in that the concept of ‘not seeing God’ clearly is part of the underlying message of Gideon’s story. Gideon did not recognize the Lord when he first saw Him, but why? Certainly it is because the Lord is appearing to Gideon in the less glorious form of a mere man, so what is the difference if He appears as an angel in the form of a man or as a just a man? The texts can be understood in this way when we exclude the word “angel” from the story and so the hypothetical Post-Deuteronomic editor wouldn’t have needed any ‘angel’ to make this point if the Lord appeared not as His Glorious Presence but as a simple man.

The issue continues to be presented by Daniel as the “original” stories portraying the Lord Himself appearing rather than the ‘Angel’ and including an allusion to Exodus 33:20, but with the story of Gideon we also have his non-recognition of the Lord. This is the hard part for the critics because Gideon’s non-recognition of the Lord basically gives the theoretical Post-Deuteronomic editor an explanation that the Lord did not appear in His most Glorious form and so what need is there to insert an ‘Angel’ into the story at all! Yet the story of Gideon does contain the ‘Angel’ so we could consider it original to the text based on this line of reasoning.

The problem continues to be compounded when we realize that a reconstructed version of the story of Gideon not only allows the Lord to appear as a man but that this understanding essentially substitutes for the Lord appearing as the ‘Angel’! It could be regarded as a matter of semantics in which the reconstructed narrative arrives at similar conclusions which the unaltered story does! In one case Gideon is afraid to have seen the ‘face of God’ but we understand by his initial non-recognition that the Lord appeared in a less glorious form, so this why Gideon does not die. In the other case Gideon is afraid to have seen the ‘face of the Angel of the Lord’ but we can deduce that Gideon is struck with the awesome presence of God’s Messenger and supposes that he could die if the Lord Himself speaks through this Angel.

In both cases there remains a glaring interpretive possibility. This is that the Lord appears in different forms! Wasn’t this the whole point of the hypothetical theology of the theoretical Post-Deuteronomic school? Is not this the whole reason which Daniel claims the ‘Angel’ was invented! Daniel states that an angel was needed to make the “original” stories fit with Exodus 33:20, but clearly as I have stated previously that even if the ‘Angel’ did not exist in the Biblical texts we still can come to the conclusion that the Lord appears in less Glorious forms and thereby align it with Exodus 33:20! In effect I believe I have demonstrated how the reconstructed story of Gideon can also be aligned with Exodus 33:20 despite Daniel’s insistence that the ‘Angel’ was needed to accomplish this!

Daniel concludes this section on Gideon by stating:

Gideon’s lament is completely unique, and the story fits perfectly with the other reconstructed narratives if we simply remove each instance of “angel.”

In other words Daniel is stating if we suppose that the texts are not original in context and the result of various theoretical schools then we can assume that there is conflict with the various hypothetical theologies and furthermore that in order to reinterpret these texts a theoretical Post-Deuteronomic editor inserted the word “Malach” in key texts to remove the theoretical conflict of hypothetical earlier theology (catching my breath). Well, I disagree, and I do not think that Daniel demonstrated the hypothetical need for an “angel” in order to align Gideon’s story with Exodus 33:20, but you can judge for yourself.

This concludes part five of this eight part series. As always, Keep Ceeking Truth and I look forward to the next post. Peace be with you all!

Part 1 Critically Conflated
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/critically-conflated/

Part 2 Interpretations of Interpolations
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/interpretations-of-interpolations/

Part 3 Saying and Seeing
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/saying-and-seeing/

Part 4 Presuming Preemption
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/22/presuming-preemption/

Part 5 Appearing to have Appeared
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/30/appearing-to-have-appeared/

Part 6 Diachronic Deadends
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/12/21/diachronic-deadends/

Part 7 Additional or Absent?
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/additional-or-absent/

Part 8 Conclusions of Conjecture
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/conclusions-of-conjecture/

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This is part four 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.

In this post Daniel’s statements on the story of Moses and the Burning Bush (Exodus 3) will be examined. Daniel starts with,

The angel is only mentioned in v. 2, and afterward God himself is the interlocutor.

There is a trend with some people to give less significance to words which appear less frequently in scripture than others. In this case the Documentarian view is focused on the one occurrence of the word, “Malach”(messenger), as if the mathematical formula of ‘less is less true’ and ‘more is more true’ is the code by which he will discern the “real” text.

Daniel has also convinced himself at this point that the ‘Angel’ is not speaking on behalf of God. It appears he has wholly excluded the possibility that the reason the ‘Messenger’ is called the ‘Messenger of the Lord’ is because He speaks a message on behalf of the Lord. Daniel has identified the words as spoken directly by the Lord based on the phrases such as, “…God called to him out of the bush…” but it is entirely possible to interpret phrases such as these as God calling out to Moses through the Messenger. This is the whole point of the Lord’s Messenger. The Angel serves as a mediator between God and man in order that the Lord’s Presence does not overcome man.

Daniel gives the following reasons for determining that only God is the interlocutor:

  1. In v. 6 God even states, ‘I am the God of your father . . .'”
  2. Moses even lowers his gaze because he is afraid to look upon God.”
  3. “…v. 2′s statement “and the angel of Yahweh appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush” does not fit the narrative. It preempts Moses’ noticing the bush (which follows “and he looked, and behold!”) and his moving close enough to it for the entity to speak out of it…”

Before I answer the first reason I need to point out how easily Daniel excludes verse 2 along with other Scriptures in the Bible.  This is because he is a Biblical Minimalist. He is not really interested in all of the texts but only those which support the Documentarian worldview. At the same time he excludes texts he also vehemently defends certain narrow interpretations of others. The problem with this approach is that the Documentarian, by trying to arrive at one correct interpretation, does not consider any other interpretations.

The first reason given to exclude verse 2 is verse 6 where God states, “I am the God of your father…”. Daniel has essentially refused to reconcile these two verses by simply acknowledging that the Messenger speaks on behalf of God, and so only the strict narrow interpretation of verse 6 is considered. He has prematurely dismissed verse 2 in his consideration of verse 6, and so his interpretation of verse 6 is out of context. He is basically stating that exhibit A is a fabrication because exhibit B does not seem to line up with exhibit A but this is only if we pretend that exhibit A does not influence how we understand exhibit B. Daniel is attempting to prove away the existence of the ‘Angel’ but all he has really stated is that verse 6 does not fit into one narrow interpretation of verse 2.

The second reason he gives is that Moses lowers his gaze because he was afraid to look at God. It continues to intrigue me how devoted some Documentarians are to certain interpretations while they ignore all others. Clearly Moses was afraid to look upon God but this still does not mean that it was not the Angel which Moses was afraid of. If the Lord was using the Angel as His mouthpiece and likeness then a portion of the Lord’s Presence is manifested and Moses most certainly would have been afraid. Moses is likely afraid of the Lord no matter what form He assumes. Whether the Lord appears in a cloud or the Angel of the Lord appears in the fire. It is also entirely possible that Moses understands later after the appearance that this was the Angel of the Lord, but these interpretations are not allowed by Daniel because they include verse 2 in their consideration.

At this point I should reiterate that the existence of the ‘Angel’ as well as the idea of the ‘Angel’ is not dependent on the Hebrew word, “Malach”. It is entirely possible that even if the word never existed in Scripture that religious thinkers and men of faith would have come to understand that the Lord uses mediation and a mediator to communicate with mankind. In this case even if verse 2 did not exist in Exodus chapter 3, the entire section could be interpreted as Moses encountering God through an intermediary, but Daniel has chosen to take a hard-line on this and is suggesting that without verse 2 there is only one correct interpretation.

In his final reason for dismissing verse 2 Daniel concludes that the verse preempts the chapter. The basic definition of “preempt” is to appropriate, seize, or take for oneself before others. In other words verse 2 messes up the “correct” interpretation. Stated another way he is saying that verse 2 affects the interpretation of the chapter. Well, this seems obvious because that is what words do. They give us context and key us in on overall meaning. In this case he has only given the reason that it does not fit into the Documentarian interpretation of chapter 3, therefore it does not belong.

He continues by stating in so many words that it makes no sense because Moses saw the bush first and not the ‘Angel’ therefore it cannot be correct. If I had a nickel every time a critic said the Bible didn’t make sense I’d be a rich man. Daniel notes that the phrase, “…and he looked and behold!” does not fit with the first part of verse 2 because first Moses apparently sees the Angel and then ‘behold!‘, he sees the burning bush. Notice how tightly Daniel holds onto his interpretation that Moses saw the Angel prior to seeing the burning bush. No other understanding of verse 2 is considered! Again we are to believe that a theoretical Post-Deuteronomic editor made a glaring mistake and left a mess of jumbled non-sense. I brought this point up previously but it needs to be revisited again.

Apparently the hypothetical Post-Deuteronomic school was such an inept collection of scribes that they could not edit their theology into one coherent sentence!  Yet despite the supposed poor sentence structure, over many centuries for all to see, only now the Biblical critics have discovered this alleged mistake.

The problems are very likely not the Hebrew but how verse 2 is translated and/or interpreted. These problems can occur when a poor or a difficult translation into English is interpreted a certain way based on the most common grammar rules of English without consideration of the textual context. The majority of verses in the Bible which don’t seem to make sense can be attributed to either improper or incomplete translation or interpretation, and I believe this is the case with verse 2.

An alternate interpretation of verse 2 could be that it is an introduction to the event before it transpires.  This would be similar to the Creation accounts given in Genesis which incidentally most critics also incorrectly interpret as two creation accounts. The  New International Version of the Bible translates Ex. 3:2 with this interpretation in mind:

“There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.”  NIV

In this translation the first part of the verse serves as a type of explanation of the story to follow.

There is another very likely interpretation of verse 2 and that is in regard to the nature of the appearance of the Messenger of the Lord. The assumption by the critics is that the Messenger appeared in bodily form in the flames but the Hebrew text does not say this. In fact, based on the context of the story, it is clear that Moses does not see anything other than a burning bush which he turns to go investigate.

Daniel is tied to the words, “and the angel of Yahweh appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush“, and he says in so many words that the Angel appeared to Moses first but the narrative conflicts by showing that Moses saw the fire first. I would suggest that it is possible that the correct interpretation is that the ‘Malach Adonai’ is not appearing in the form of an ‘angel’ but the Messenger of the Lord is appearing in a non corporeal form in the flames of the fire, and this is why Moses only sees the burning bush from a distance. This interpretation seems to line up well with the other places in Exodus where the ‘Angel’ appears as a Cloud by day and a Fire by night (Ex. 14:19). Consider also a later understanding in Psalm 104:4:

“Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:” KJV

It would seem from this understanding that angels or in this case the ‘Angel’ can appear as a spirit (wind) or a flaming fire, so it could be very likely that the ‘Angel’ in the fire of the burning bush not only appears in the fire but appears within the fire as the fire. This would certainly explain why Moses saw the fire first and seems to be a very plausible interpretation.

Daniel concludes this section by stating:

The most likely reason is that the statement is a late interpolation meant to contextualize the comments that followed. Without the statement, it is God himself speaking to Moses.

He has essentially dismissed Exodus 3:2 in this sweeping statement which assumes only one narrow interpretation of the text. Above I have offered a few plausible interpretations which reconcile verse 2. If one is to find  the Documentarian view more to their liking then they should do the responsible thing and offer reasons why the interpretations I have presented are not just as likely. If as I predict no one can fully disprove anything I have written in this post then what Daniel has presented as a likely interpolation suddenly seems not as likely.

This ends part 4 of this 8 part series.  I look forward to the next and as always Keep Ceeking Truth. 🙂

Part 1 Critically Conflated
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/critically-conflated/

Part 2 Interpretations of Interpolations
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/interpretations-of-interpolations/

Part 3 Saying and Seeing
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/saying-and-seeing/

Part 4 Presuming Preemption
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/22/presuming-preemption/

Part 5 Appearing to have Appeared
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/30/appearing-to-have-appeared/

Part 6 Diachronic Deadends
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/12/21/diachronic-deadends/

Part 7 Additional or Absent?
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/additional-or-absent/

Part 8 Conclusions of Conjecture
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/conclusions-of-conjecture/

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This is part two 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 counted 36 occurrences of “Malach Adonai” and 6 of “Malach Elohim” from Genesis to Judges. His focus is on the word pairing “Angel of the LORD” and “Angel of God”. At first I was unsure of the reason he chose to not consider those occurrences after the book of Judges, but I believe his point was to only consider the earliest appearances of the ‘Malach’. Keep in mind that “early” for the critical scholar is the late 7th century BCE as this is the dating they assign to the theoretical Deuteronomic school which he is attributing to the creation of ‘Malach Adonai’ and ‘Malach Elohim’.

In researching this matter it was apparent that some critical scholars consider all of the historical books in their analysis. Most would consider Genesis through Kings as a type of Unateuch in which theoretical redactors peppered their theology throughout. Whatever Daniel’s reason for excluding the other instances of the ‘Malach’ in the rest of the historical books, I cannot discern, but in this blog series I will be considering some passages outside of Genesis through Judges so as to examine possible theoretical Post-Deuteronomic motives for hypothetical interpolations.

Daniel starts with the first occurrence of “Malach Adonai”  which is the appearance to Hagar (Gen. 16:7), but a distinction needs to be pointed out. This is the first occurrence of the word pair, “Malach Adonai”. This distinction needs to be emphasized so that we understand that the designation of ‘Malach Adonai’ is a separate matter in itself than interpreting the other appearances of the LORD as His Messenger or even as a theophany. This should be made clear. Daniel’s focus is solely on the word pairs “Malach Adonai” and “Malach Elohim”, and how he explains why there really is no angel of the LORD but only a likely Post-Deuteronomic interpolation. To understand Daniel’s focus we need to review some basics regarding the Documentary Hypothesis.

Most scholars who adhere to the ideas of the Documentary Hypothesis hold to the idea that the theoretical Deuteronomic school was the final school to solidly Israel’s idea of monotheism, and I suspect that this is how Daniel approaches the scriptures as well. The Sacred Name of God, LORD, (“Yahweh”) is a marker for critical scholars to identify scriptures which are possible Deuteronomic interpolations. This is because they see the book of Deuteronomy as reinterpreting the god who should be worshipped as Adonai (“Yahweh”), and why the word pair, “Malach Adonai”, is such a focus in this regard.

Now another point needs to be brought up pertaining  to polytheism and early Hebraic religion.  Daniel’s message is not particularly concerned with polytheism or even monotheism, but instead is built on an idea which states that no one can see the LORD and live. It is this idea which is attributed to the redactor, and to the redactor only, for the sake of reinterpreting the LORD’s appearance’s as not contrary to Deuteronomic theology. In other words a theoretical Post-Deuteronomic redactor is trying to cover up the theoretical theology of a hypothetical Yahwist or Elohist narrative.

Daniel states that just as Hagar asks how does she survive seeing God that, “This would echo sentiments found in our other angel of Yahweh pericopes (Gen 32:30…,” and he goes on to list others, but I need to point out that Genesis 32:30 is not an “Angel of Yahweh” passage! In fact nowhere in chapter 32 is the Hebrew word “Malach” found! Chapter 32 is where Jacob wrestles with a “man”, and yet Daniel has in a round about way admitted that this “man” is really an angel.

This may have been a mistake on Daniel’s part. In studying the different versions I noted that Brenton’s English translation of the Septuagint interprets the English word “angel” in Gen. 32:32 in place of the Greek “he”. Clearly it is noted by brackets  or italics keying the reader in that it is not in the Greek. It would seem in this case that Daniel overlooked the fact that the Greek word for “angel” (aggelos) is not in the text of the Septuagint either!

I’m going to point out the obvious which is that Daniel’s claims are in regard to mainly Hebrew and Greek interpolations so when we see a word which has been interpreted into English we hold to what is in the original languages as a priority and not the opposite. This brings up an important point. Daniel is not just focused on the word “angel”, but also on those passages which state in so many words that someone saw the LORD and yet lived to tell the story.

Is Daniel’s argument consistent?  If a redactor interpolated an ‘angel’ to shield the people from seeing the LORD then why is there no “angel” in Genesis 32? If indeed it was only the LORD wrestling with Jacob in the “original” text then the radical critic must believe that the Name of the LORD was replaced with “man” before or during the theoretical Deuteronomic period, but if this was the case then why would a post-Dueteronomic redactor add a statement at the end about “seeing the LORD” yet living? If indeed the LORD’s Name was removed and replaced with “man” then what point would a Post-Deuteronomist have in stating that Jacob saw the LORD and lived if Jacob only saw a “man”? Furthermore the sacred Name is not even used in this passage, but instead the Name “Elohim”. In this instance regarding Genesis 32, one possible conclusion regarding the text about ‘Seeing God’ is that the text is not actually echoing anything but is original in context and not the handiwork of theoretical Post-Deuteronomic redactors.

The number of occurrences of the ‘Malach’ is quite important to Daniel as he counted 36 of ‘Malach Adonai’ from Genesis through Judges and makes a point to go over those passages which contain the word pair “Malach Adonai”, and ignores any of the other passages which are missing this “formula”. When it comes to identifying ‘Angel of the Lord’ passages however, Daniel breaks this “formula” and lists Gen. 32 as included in his examination.

The claims of interpolations seem to be invalidated in this particular case. If there is no word for ‘angel’ in Genesis 32 then it is not an “Angel of the LORD” passage in the definition which Daniel started with. In fact Genesis 32 is not included in Daniel’s reckoning of 36 occurrences from Genesis through Judges of “Malach Adonai” because the Hebrew word “Malach” does not occur in chapter 32 nor does the Greek word “Aggelos”, and yet he has identified Genesis 32 as an “Angel of the LORD” passage!

Consider the following in Genesis 32:22-32 where Jacob struggles with a “man”:  In this story there are some key points which the reader should ponder:

  1. There is no use of the LORD’s sacred Name.
  2. There is no use of the Hebrew or Greek word for messenger/angel.
  3. There is a reference to ‘seeing God’ ‘face to face’, but the Name “Elohim” is used and not “Adonai”.

Explained in another way, why do passages such as this exist at all if indeed there was such a thing as a Post-Deuteronomist? Well I can only try to surmise from a critical viewpoint to state that a theoretical Post-Deuteronomic editor really botched this one up. If indeed the Post-Deuteronomist represented the latest of redactors then they should have had all the texts at their disposal in order to “correct” these “problems”, but instead we are told to believe that we can see all the “mistakes” which they left behind.

My logic leads me to believe that the radical critics really do not hold the redactors in a very high regard. I could be wrong, but to me it seems that the Post-Deuteronomists are seen to have attempted to cover up perceived problematic passages but have failed miserably due to the passages which should have an interpolated ‘angel’.

If I believed in a Post-Deuteronomic school I certainly could not hold them in such a low esteem. I would think that if these were Hebrew scribes that their standards of textual analysis would be exceptional. Would they not study the Torah day and night and meditate on every word and phrase? If their idea of the LORD and centralization of worship was so clear then why do we find passages which are contrary to those ideas? If these politically motivated redactors really existed then why were they so careless so as to leave a trail of scriptures which contradict their main aims?

Perhaps the radical critic who believes in a Post-Deuteronomic school doesn’t realize the low standard they have assigned to this school? It sounds like the current state of high school education which is flailing in America. In other words this Deuteronomic school is so substandard that it cannot teach its students basic reading skills.

In speaking on the Hagar narrative Daniel is proposing that there never was a Messenger to begin with, so the argument is no longer about the interpretation of the ‘angel’ as a specific Angel of the Lord or a nonspecific angel. Instead the implied situation is that the confusion of the identity of the ‘angel’ is due to theoretical interpolations of the word “Malach”. It seems like an argument in which the Post-Deuteronomist is shown trying to support a specific type of strict monotheism, but it falls apart. This is because even without the mention of a Messenger in other passages, the texts are still interpreted within a framework of what the radical critics would call ‘Deuteronomic monotheism’. In those texts missing an ‘angel’ various religious communities interpret the interlocutor as either the LORD or an angel of the LORD. This is the case with the ‘Jacob wrestling a man’ passage which is later explained by the prophet Hosea in chapter 12 verse 4:

“Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed; He wept and sought His favor. He found Him at Bethel And there He spoke with us,…”

Hosea has revealed a Hebraic understanding of an earlier passage which makes no literal mention of a “Malach”, but it is clear that the “man” in Genesis 32 is understood to be ‘the angel’. One possible conclusion is that there was no need to identify the “man” because the Hebrews understood that this was either an angel or a theophany.

Of course the critical scholar could conveniently attribute this verse in Hosea to Post-Deuteronomic authorship, but in this case it really doesn’t matter who the verse is attributed to (although I would still hold to the idea that the verse is original in context), because it is proof to the fact that the word “Malach” did not need to exist in Genesis chapter 32 in order for it to be understood as a passage about an angel. I believe this is where the Interpolation Theory loses it’s wind. It seems to be focused on the Deuteronomic desire to cover up theoretical passages in which the LORD is appearing as Himself, but if the passage can be interpreted as an angelic appearance then what need is there to interpolate the angel?

In looking at the story of Hagar, consider the contextual interpretation of ‘angel’.  Since the Hebrew word for “angel” is also translated, “messenger”, we need to depend on the details of each story to determine if we are reading about a heavenly messenger or if the passages are in reference to an earthly messenger. The implication is that we could interpret an appearance of the LORD as a nonspecific angel or as a specific Angel which serves to give the LORD’s message. This is even when the passage does not contain the word pair “Malach Adonai”, might only contain the word “Malach”, or not contain the word “Malach” at all.

The point being is that the concept of the ‘Messenger’ is not dependent on the word pair “Malach Adonai”. Even if the word pair never existed in the Biblical texts the concept of it would have existed in commentary in one form or another (I state this only to make a point because I still believe that the texts more likely originally contained the title of ‘Malach Adonai’).

Now in getting back to the appearance to Hagar (Gen. 16:7), Daniel states that, “…This would echo sentiments found in our other angel of Yahweh pericopes (Gen 32:30…”  He is referencing a concept which he believes is proof that shows a pattern of Deuteronomic editorship which is this: Wherever you see in scripture places which describe the LORD appearing then you will also find words regarding seeing God yet living, and the ‘Malach Adonai’ as the mediator. It’s a theory which I believe is built on sinking sands as Daniel himself incorrectly identifies Gen 32:30 as one of those ‘Malach Adonai’ passages.

Daniel notes Hagar’s emphasis in verse 13 of the NRSV which states, “… for she said, “Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?” The critical scholar also thinks that this notion about ‘seeing God’ is an infused idea by a Deuteronomist, for it is thought that this idea is a later development. Daniel offers no support for the late development of this idea other than stating that it is most likely echoing Exodus 33:20, “…you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live,” which incidentally is also another verse the critics consider to be a Deuteronomic interpolation and is therefore dated by the critics to the hypothetical Deuteronomical period of the late 7th century B.C. or later. For more on the speculative dating of Deuteronomy and hence the Deuteronomic period I would refer the reader to the works of Gordon Wenham, but for the sake of this article it need only be pointed out that the late dating of Deuteronomy is still not substantiated in a full and complete manner by the Radical Biblical critics.

Daniel’s point seems to be that in Deuteronomic logic an angel can make an appearance but according to Exodus 33:20 the LORD’s appearance is fatal, so the word “Malach” was inserted to “fix” the “incorrect” concepts in the Torah. We know Daniel believes Exodus 33:20 is an interpolation because he wrote,

Exod 33:20, which states that no human will see God and live, is alluded to in each example.”

What evidence do we have to prove that a theoretical Post-Deuteronomist was alluding to a hypothetically interpolated theology? Couldn’t we just as easily assume that Exodus 33:22 is actually the writer of Exodus echoing these ideas from Genesis? Until I can find more convincing correlational evidence to support Deuteronomic allusions of Exodus 33:20, I will have to consider this point unsubstantiated.

And so Daniel states that the whole passage on Hagar makes more sense if we drop the word “Malach” so that as he states she is, “…speaking directly with Yahweh.” The critical line of thought assumes that an explanation is in order for what could appear to be a conflict of ideas. For how could Hagar see the LORD and live? Only the critic sees this as a problem because they have already built up ideas of a supposed  web of Deuteronomic influence. They are therefore confronted with problems which do not fit into their Biblical universe. The Angel of the Lord is one of those problems which Daniel is grappling with. When posed with the problems of identity confusion the critic sees “evidence” of story manipulation. Instead of considering that the Angel is either the LORD or a non-specific messenger, his answer is to do away with the angel altogether.

In regard to Exodus chapter 33 it becomes very clear that the LORD is not only referring to seeing Him, but in fact is responding to Moses inquiry after he asks the LORD in verse 18, “…Now show me your glory.” It seems an odd statement because Moses is assumed to be speaking face to face with the LORD as noted in verse 11, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend…” If Moses was speaking with the LORD face to face then would he not have seen His glory? Well, apparently not, hence Moses request, “…Now show me your glory.” What seems even more odd is the response which the LORD gives Moses in verse 19 which states that He would cause all His goodness to pass in front of Moses. It seems at this point that we could very easily interpret these verses as demonstrating that the LORD is fully able to present Himself in a less glorious form.

Finally we come to Exodus 33:20 which seems to be the center of Daniel’s presentation, but in light of the context of chapter 33 it suddenly sounds quite odd if simply taken out of context. The LORD states, “…you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live,” but in light of the preceding verses this statement can be understood as the face of the LORD’s full Glory, as stated in verse 19, “…all His goodness.” The implication is that Moses can speak face to face with the LORD (verse 11), but no one can stand before the face of the LORD when He shows His full glory (verses 18, 19, and 20). Now with the above very likely interpretation of Exodus 33:11-20, there is no need for the Interpolation of a ‘Malach’. Why? Because if the LORD is capable of appearing in less glorious forms such as a “man”, or a “fire”, or a “cloud” then there is no need to explain why people did not die at seeing Him in these less glorious forms.

It is very likely that Daniel is not convinced that Exodus chapter 33 should be read in a synchronic approach,  but in my estimation if a Deuteronomist actually infused their ideas into this chapter then they did the poorest of jobs. For instance why state that no one can see the LORD’s face in verse 20 when in verse 11 Moses speaks with the LORD face to face? If one accepts Exodus chapter 33 as it stands without placing upon it a theoretical diachronic viewpoint then the passage explains itself and does away with supposed “problems” in the other passages.

Regarding diachronic analysis of the Biblical texts, it is the method which Daniel uses in his approach to Scripture.  More simply put, viewing the stories as coming together over a span of time by multiple theoretical authors, rather than seeing them as distinct stories which represent themselves as being recorded in singular units. It is Daniel’s argument which states in so many words that holding a diachronic view of the texts is supported by the Interpolation Theory. Well, it would seem that this is what he is stating, but the Interpolation Theory is actually the result of diachronic analysis! By taking the diachronic viewpoint, Wellhausen, as well as others, laid the foundation to reinterpret the existence of the Biblical stories. This ultimately led to the theory of the Documentary Hypothesis which in turn spawned the Interpolation Theory.

The point is that one must first be persuaded by the hypothetical arguments of the Documentary Hypothesis or some form of it in order to adopt the belief that certain stories or ideas should be viewed with diachronic analysis to begin with. I do not intend to trail off into arguments against the Documentary Hypothesis. All that is necessary for the reader to understand is that these ideas are part of the Interpolation Theory. This is especially in regard to the theoretical Deuteronomic school as Daniel concludes in his article that the ‘angel’ is likely the interpolation of Post-Deuteronomic authorship.

Daniel concludes the section on Hagar by stating, “This particular story makes more sense with the word ‘angel’ removed from vv. 7, 9, 10, and 11, and with Hagar speaking directly with Yahweh.”  It certainly could make sense within a radically critical framework, but does that framework stand under the scrutiny of conservatism?

Does not the possibility that the LORD was actually appearing to Hagar in a less glorious form also remain a likely interpretation?  Does not the ‘Malach’ remain open for debate as to His specific or nonspecific nature?

The conservative is more interested in dealing with the text as it stands and does not see contrary ideas at play. If the LORD appeared to Hagar and she did not perish then explanations are in order, and there remain other very likely explanations besides the Interpolation Theory.

This ends part two of this eight part series.  I look forward to my next post. Peace be with all and Keep Ceeking Truth. 🙂

Part 1 Critically Conflated
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/critically-conflated/

Part 2 Interpretations of Interpolations
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/interpretations-of-interpolations/

Part 3 Saying and Seeing
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/saying-and-seeing/

Part 4 Presuming Preemption
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/22/presuming-preemption/

Part 5 Appearing to have Appeared
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/30/appearing-to-have-appeared/

Part 6 Diachronic Deadends
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/12/21/diachronic-deadends/

Part 7 Additional or Absent?
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/additional-or-absent/

Part 8 Conclusions of Conjecture
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/conclusions-of-conjecture/

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This is part one 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 references two works which he uses to build his case. I certainly would not endeavor to respond to the referenced material but can only assume that he has presented the material from those books as he intended. I did my best to speculate why he shared certain things over others, and I clarified what I understood to be the most common critical claims on the ‘angel’. When I felt further explanation was needed from the critical viewpoint, I did my best to present those perspectives.

Daniel started by describing , “…two general approaches to explaining the angel…,”. The first and most prevalent view as he stated is, “…the angel, as a divine messenger, represents his patron so completely that he may be referred to and even described as the patron.” This is all he had to share regarding the first and most prevalent viewpoint.

It could be that Daniel simply intended to communicate that the first view does not take into account the possibility of interpolation of the word “angel”, but seems more likely to be a description of how the ‘angel’ is mistakenly identified as his patron. This viewpoint can be tied up in arguments about the non-specific identity of ‘an angel’ of the LORD versus ‘The Angel’, but since Daniel has forgone further explanation I will leave this and move to the next point.

The second view is, “…the word “angel” is simply an interpolation where it was originally Yahweh himself interacting with humanity.” In other words where the scriptures state, “Malach Adonai,” they supposedly originally referenced Adonai or Elohim alone. The Hebrew word for messenger or angel, “Malach”, is speculated to have been inserted in front of the four letter Name of the LORD, or as most scholars refer to the Name, “Yahweh.” As a side note, In this article my preference is to refer to the Sacred Name as, ‘LORD’ in all caps or ‘Adonai’ instead of “Yahweh”, as I consider “Yahweh” a technical name which I only use in describing the ideas of current critical scholarship.

In Daniel’s opening summary he explained how the person of the ‘angel’ is incorrectly identified in two general approaches. He referred to both views as, “…general approaches…where his (the angel’s) identity seems to be conflated or confused…” In other words there are two ways to misidentify the ‘angel’, and both ways seem to be the result of conflation and/or confusion. This is how I understand what Daniel is stating but I hesitate to conclude that this is what he was trying to convey. In the end it matters less about his view on the first and most prevalent view of the ‘angel’ as he spends the remainder of his article presenting the second view. As he stated, “In this post I’d like to explain why I find the latter view to be far more convincing.” That is to say he finds the view of the interpolated ‘angel’ more likely. He is not concerned with going into explanations about the most prevalent view or any other viewpoint. His focus is only on two ways to misidentify and he does not consider any other views outside of this scope.

He has identified two general approaches but both of them are in regard to conflating or confusing the identity of the ‘angel’. His opening summary does not seem to adequately separate the ‘two approaches’. It seems more likely that Daniel has divided the ‘two approaches’ simply for the sake of stating that some people believe the texts and some people do not. Those who hold the first and most prevalent view are associated from the start with being confused about the identity of the ‘angel’. He carefully inserts the keywords, “…seems to…” in regard to conflating or confusing. In this way he acknowledges that it is only a possibility, but his point seems to be about associating both views with confusion, and this is even only if it seems to be the case.

Now in regard to the concept of conflation. It is a word which negatively portrays the condition of the Biblical manuscripts, for if the texts are more reliable than speculated by some, then what is being called conflation could actually just be conservatively interpreting the texts. It is one thing to state that the identity of the ‘angel’ seems to be conflated and it is another to state that it is conflated. I applaud Daniel McClellan for correctly stating that it seems to be conflated because too many have begun to assume that this matter is settled.

This view which Daniel is more inclined to hold has simply come to be known as ‘The Interpolation Theory’ with regard to the Angel of the LORD. Now, I am not the first one to claim this as a theory, but it has been addressed as such in books on the topic for some time. Something else needs to be brought up with regard to the Interpolation Theory which is tied up in ideas of the Documentary Hypothesis. This is in regard to seeing the names of God as a means of dividing up stories of the Biblical Texts into schools which call God either by the name Elohim or Yahweh. Daniel stated, “…it was originally Yahweh himself interacting with humanity.” This is the hint which keys in the reader that the arguments of the Documentary Hypotheses are in play. How are these arguments part of the mix? Well the most simple explanation would be that there is a dependence on the ideas of a theoretical Yahwist or Elohist narrative which is being rewritten by a hypothetical Post-Deuteronomic redactor.

In Daniel’s concluding paragraph he makes it clear that the reasons for the most prevalent view are due to possible interpolations of the word ‘angel’. He has essentially used the second view as an explanation of why the first view might be incorrect. Of course if this was his intent then he has only truly presented us with one viewpoint on the matter which simply stated is only a possibility of an explanation of why another viewpoint is probably incorrect.

If the Interpolation Theory is to be considered more likely true, it should be shown in a number of ways with regard to multiple possibilities. This is so that the theory can be shown as plausible by taking into account other factors which also might be true as well. Most of these of factors have to do with questioning whether other likely possibilities exist, which if true, would invalidate the Interpolation Theory. It only needs to be shown that other possibilities are just as likely to be the case in order to point out that the Interpolation Theory still remains in the realm of a claim which is not well substantiated. It is my aim in the next seven blogs to show all of the other very likely possibilities and thus show that the Interpolation Theory falls drastically short of being a likely possibility in explaining the Angel of the Lord.

I look forward to writing part two of this series and wish you all the best. Peace be with you and Keep Ceeking Truth. 🙂

Part 1 Critically Conflated
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/critically-conflated/

Part 2 Interpretations of Interpolations
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/interpretations-of-interpolations/

Part 3 Saying and Seeing
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/saying-and-seeing/

Part 4 Presuming Preemption
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/22/presuming-preemption/

Part 5 Appearing to have Appeared
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/30/appearing-to-have-appeared/

Part 6 Diachronic Deadends
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/12/21/diachronic-deadends/

Part 7 Additional or Absent?
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/additional-or-absent/

Part 8 Conclusions of Conjecture
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/conclusions-of-conjecture/

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